Apple announce iPhone 4S, ‘Siri voice control’ – but is Apple losing its magic? #LetstalkiPhone

In a lacklustre and underwhelming keynote led by Tim Cook, Apple reiterate iOS5, the iPhone 4S hardware upgrades and Apple's new 'Siri' voice control - have Apple events lost their magic?

Apple Lets Talk iPhone Event

Tim Cook started his keynote with the usual statistics – proclaiming that “Customers love the iPhone. It’s not number 1 by a small amount. In fact, it’s pummeling the competition.” After an extensive and admittedly dull run down of iOS5, including details of a new ‘Cards’ app (for turning photographs in to greetings cards), and also camera access from the lock screen, they finally revealed that  iOS5 will be a free update, released October 12th.

Now half an hour in, there was a demo of iCloud, and a run down of the iPod updates (nothing special – some new clock faces for the Nano is what stood out most) – now one hour in to the keynote, the iPhone 4S details were revealed. The new 4S is ‘entirely new’ on the inside with the A5 processor and new camera, dual-core CPU, with dual-core graphics. Apparently – it is ‘up to’ 7 times faster than the previous iPhone. Apple also announced that the iPhone 3GS will now be ‘free’ perhaps in an attempt to steal some market share from the still-going-strong feature phone market.

iPhone 5 Siri

Surely pressing the home button for a while & asking your iphone about today's weather is so much easier than... touching the weather app.

The final announcement – what appears to be the focus of the event given the name (see what they did there?) was a new voice assistant called ‘Siri’ – certainly more ‘intelligent’ voice control (or so it seems – we will have to wait and see) but is this just a gimmick to cover up what was otherwise just an announcement of a straightforward hardware upgrade and reiteration of what iOS5 has to offer?

This raises a further question - Does anyone actually want to talk to their phone? Robert Forner doesn’t think so – he recently wrote about the The Unrecognized Death of Speech Recognition. In a more simplistic response, one Twitter user today was quoted as saying “I don’t care how good you say the tech is these days, voice control has never been anything other than a total ball ache”. Usability expert David Travis on the other hand commented that “Siri in the iPhone 4S gets us one step closer to Apple’s ‘Knowledge Navigator’ vision”.

What do you think? Was the announcement underwhelming? Was it what you expected?  The BBC’s technology correspondent  Rory Cellan-Jones said that “So far this is the longest, dullest and least newsy Apple event I can remember.”, whilst Paul Thurrot commented “So this keynote just sort of petered out, right? Was anyone left when the lights came on?” On the other hand, Dan Frommer in his commentary proclaimed “If you’re disappointed by the iPhone 4S, you’re nuts”, and he wrote an extensive piece as to why nobody should be disappointed. So – have Apple events finally lost their magic – or have Apple made it so that we have unrealistic expectations?