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Apple's Siri service not working for some

The crowning feature of the iPhone 4S appears to be experiencing hiccups during its first day on the job. Some users are reporting that the service is not connecting.

An error message on Siri.
An error message on Siri.
Twitter user @mactds

Apple's Siri service, the voice assistant feature that's an exclusive to the newly launched iPhone 4S, is experiencing downtime, according to numerous users.

At approximately 6 p.m. PT, users began posting to Twitter that they were experiencing problems getting Siri to respond to voice commands. Affected users reported that the feature activated correctly, but was not connecting to process voice commands.

Multiple tests with CNET's test unit between 6:58 p.m. and 7:50 p.m. Pacific had the feature working over CNET's Wi-Fi network and over Sprint's 3G network on a number of query types, suggesting the problems could be isolated.

The feature uses the iPhone 4S' built-in microphone, taking user commands and turning them into actions on the phone. That includes things that make use of a network connection, like searching the Web, setting reminders, and checking stock prices. Those queries are then piped through Apple's servers.

The reported problems follow on the heels of users having difficulties downloading and installing iOS 5 earlier this week. iOS 5 is the latest version of Apple's software for powering the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the iPad.

An Apple representative could not provide information about an outage. We'll update this post if that changes.

Update, 10:30 p.m. PT: Going through the comments in this post, I find that a number of CNET readers have also run into the problem, with others reporting the feature to be working just fine. There's also an Apple discussion thread about the issue here. One user on that thread suggested disabling the feature, rebooting the phone, then re-enabling Siri, however it seems inconclusive whether that helps those affected by the issue.

Did you buy an iPhone 4S today, and are you having trouble with Siri? Let us know in the comments.

Updated at 7:50 p.m. PT with additional testing notes and once again at 10:30 p.m. with more details.