Siri has quickly become the defining feature on the iPhone 4S. But a new article suggests that the iPhone 5 could feature a next-generation assistant that will replace Siri. Is the iPhone 4S looking more and more like a testing ground for future Apple mobile technologies?
If you’re loving Siri on your iPhone 4S, it might be both the first and last iPhone iteration to feature it. A new report from CP suggests that Apple may intend to replace Siri as soon as 2012 on the iPhone 5: ”The next Apple iPhone is expected to receive a complete revamp, with updates to both its software and external chassis. Industry experts speculate that this could also mean an update for the artificial intelligence system, Siri. . . Apple has stated that the program is meant to be exclusive to the 4S.”
That last statement is particularly crypic: when Apple says that iPhone 4S is the “most ordinary means” for running Siri, it is clear that they want to ensure that users do not exploit the ability to port Siri functionality onto the iPhone 4. Because, let’s face it: Siri is really the defining feature that makes the iPhone 4S different from the iPhone 4. While the A5 processor is indeed fast, both iPhones can run iOS 5, and both look essentially the same. It takes Siri to really sell the iPhone 4S, and so Apple is making sure to brand Siri as a proprietary component of the 4S.
But CP is also inferring that Siri’s primary purpose is to sell the 4S, and that by the time the iPhone 5 comes along, there will be a bigger, better assistant-like technology that will quickly replace Siri: “Experts suggest that if Siri is an iPhone 4S exclusive, that Apple may have more plans for the virtual personal assistant, for future generations of iPhones.”
Given the fact that the iPhone 5 is expected to sport a brand-new form factor, larger screen, the A6 chip, and even possibly an iOS 6 operating system, it isn’t impossible to imagine that even Siri could get an upgrade. We’ve already written about the prospect of Siri getting smarter and more interactive in the future, since it seems to work much like a search engine algorithm. But the idea of seeing Siri come and go on just the iPhone 4S begin to raise the specter of Apple’s newest iPhone iteration being a kind of “guinea pig,” testing the market for Siri-like features and the performance of the iOS 5 operating system.
This isn’t to say that the 4S experience has been disappointing for everyone: new iPhone users and those upgrading from the iPhone 3G and 3Gs are enjoying the speed, performance, and novelty of what the new iPhone has to offer. But if the speculation turns out to be true and the iPhone 5 will make its debut as early as the 2012 WWDC, the iPhone 4S could turn out to be a perceived rest stop on the way towards a serious overhaul for the iPhone franchise.
By Michael Nace