I have a Saturday tale to tell of two friends who have been converted. Frank and Janice are my oldest friends and are we are all of a similar age. I played cowboys and indians with Frank when we were three years old. We even worked together in a bank during our late teens. I’ve known Janice since she was 15 when she first met Frank.
Frank is a brilliant amateur mechanic, knowledgeable on most subjects, especially anything technical that doesn’t have a computer, and is still a demon cyclist, capable of knocking back 100 miles a day. But he’s never been a computer person. Janice, too, has dabbled with email and buying stuff from Amazon, but never felt a real affinity. The family Windows computer was pretty much unloved.
Then Apple hove into their sight a couple of years ago. Janice bought my iPad 1 because she had read that David Hockney liked painting on the iPad. She downloaded a stack of painting apps and soon became proficient. Along the way she started web browsing and using the iPad for email in preference to the the PC. Husband Frank, in turn, tried the iPad and found he could read cycling magazines and daily newspapers more easily, and more cheaply than getting hold of the paper versions.
Over the past year this blossoming relationship with the iPad has been rumbling beneath the surface. Yet their phones were still dumb, with cheap pay-as-you-go SIMS. I suspect they only switched them on when they needed to find one another in the local Tesco supermarket.
Enter Siri, left stage. Janice had read about Siri and emailed to ask what it was all about. She thought she might like an iPhone and I gave her some sage advice.
To cut a story short, she visited Vodafone and ordered a 16GB 4S. They ran out, so offered her a free upgrade to a 32GB. That was a good result and, within minutes she was chatting to Siri like a long-lost buddy. And Frank, not a fan of the keyboard, was amazed. Now he wants one.
This story is being replayed around the world as I write. Siri may be flawed, Siri may not know about locations outside the USA, but Siri is single voicedly moving iPhones from the shelves by the million.
Voice recognition and dictation is by no means new and certainly not unique to the iPhone. But it is the iPhone that will push voice recognition into the mainstream. There had been smartphones before the iPhone. But it is the iPhone that now defines smartphones. Apple are not always the first, or course. The geeks will always be able to point a finger and complain, but the simple fact is that when Apple does something the world listens. Yes, Siri, Send.