Mar 162012

I wish I could say that I had pre-ordered and was gleefully poking away at a New iPad, but going 3 for 3 on Apple kit in consecutive years at $600 a pop is not something this person of limited means can boast. I have, however, been treated to a plethora of reviews and the occasional retarded “x reasons why you shouldn’t buy an ipad” list. It’s hilarious that they still make these.

One person from whom I expect – neigh demand – to see a glowing review is Dave Pogue, someone who has always been more pro-Apple (read: reality-based) than some of the other guys on the tech beat. Imagine my surprise to see a less-than-gushing review. And this is a device that has Joshua Topolsky gushing. Dave appears to be stifling a yawn:

That’s exactly what’s going on with the new iPad. Its technical improvements keep it at the forefront of desirability — just ahead of the snapping jaws of its Android competition — but don’t take it in any new directions.

I especially liked the part about Android competitors’ “snapping jaws”. I have this image of a toothless granny chasing Tim Cook around with her cane. I guess it’s good that Pogue got his review in on time with the rest of the technorati instead of having people speculate on the Times’ deteriorating relationship with Apple, which is what happened with his late-to-be-posted Mountain Lion review.

And then Dave had a question about Siri. And he used a phrase I never thought Dave Pogue would write (emphasis mine):

Weirdly, though, speech-to-text is the only piece of Siri, Apple’s smart voice-control software, that the new iPad inherits from the iPhone 4S. You don’t get the rest of Siri’s features: the ability to set alarms, send text messages, look up calendar appointments and snag facts from the Web just by asking out loud. That the full Siri isn’t available smacks more of a marketing department holdback than technical limitations.

Guuuuuh. Dave: Apple does not sacrifice at the altar of pure marketing. It will make a number of decisions based on the experience of the brand, however. Maybe that’s how some people define “weird”, but I didn’t expect Pogue to be one of those people.

The reason for no Siri is simple: Siri is an “always on” feature. On the iPhone 4S, Siri is a feature backed by a ubiquitous (read everywhere but in New York with AT&T) network connection, accessible by holding down the home/earbud mic button. Looking across the iPad line, there’s no guarantee of a data connection. Faced with a decision about whether to limit Siri based solely on network availability or to limit the capability of Siri to dictation (which still requires a network connection), Apple made what I feel is a logical decision for their iPad lineup. Apple’s implementation of Siri on the iPad is a mic button that appears on the on-screen keyboard only when you have a network connection.

Apple doesn’t makes technical decisions purely to push people to other products. Apple makes technical decisions that yield the best experiences with their products. Sometimes, as in the case of Siri, this involves leaving features on the table. If Apple said Siri was available on the New iPad, people would expect to always have it and would be disappointed with its  functionality being limited to the times it had network connectivity. Instead, the device’s speech capabilities are being billed as dictation, a bullet point buried in the feature list, so that expectation goes away.

Apple doesn’t just succeed at creating superior consumer experiences by creating great kit, it does it by controlling expectations. This is a just another case in point.

 Posted by at 7:47 am  Tagged with: ,
Jan 032012

Happy New Year to all my beloved readers. May all your resolutions be rationally thought-out, and not something absurd like “post to blog every day”. Don’t know what I was thinking with that one.

When Apple introduced the iPhone 4S with the Siri personal assistant, you could almost hear the photocopiers warming up in Redmond and Mountain View. After all, when your business models are based on cloning someone else’s superior offering, a feature like Siri was never going to go uncloned. While we wait for Android’s official duplication (despite Andy Rubin’s insistance that Siri was “no big deal” when it was released), Android’s developer community of copyright and trademark destroyers ecosystem will have to step up in the meantime. Because the Android Market is moderated with the efficacy of an inner-city public school restroom, suckers who actually bought into this “Siri on Android” bong water were sure to be treated to something that may have looked a lot like Apple’s interface, but sure as hell didn’t do as much. Here’s the most egregious copy, Speerit, from a Korean developer courtesy of 9to5Mac:

Note the liberal use of the Siri icon complete with text bubbles. The other current entrant, the understated “Siri for Android”, rips off a whole bunch of iconography, complete with ads because we are talking about Android here:

Is it really that surprising that the earliest knock-offs of Apple’s Siri IP would come from the country Samsung calls home? I submit that it is not.

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