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iPhone 4S gets Siri for intelligent voice control

Siri is the new voice-control software for the iPhone 4S that lets you do all kinds of tasks without ever needing to touch the screen.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Expertise Smartphones, Photography, iOS, Android, gaming, outdoor pursuits Credentials
  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
2 min read
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Apple has been showing off Siri -- a new voice-control feature on the iPhone 4S that may very well be magic -- at its otherwise pretty disappointing product unveiling in Cupertino.

It's called Siri after the company that originally made the software, rather than the less friendly 'Assistant' that was rumoured. Rather than poke around like a chump on your phone, Siri will take all your commands and answer all your questions without a single argument. Lovely.

From the stage in Cupertino, Apple's Scott Forstall showed off Siri's skills by asking a whole heap of questions. Asking, "What is the weather like today?" Siri responded with, "Here is the forecast for today," and brought up the latest weather results.

Forstall -- evidently an early riser -- demanded of Siri "wake me up at 6am" to which she dutifully obliged by creating a new alarm.

Saying "give me directions to Rotherham" for example will bring up Maps, with the directions helpfully programmed in. Of course, a more helpful response would be "you really shouldn't go to Rotherham", but we suppose the map is at least useful in a car.

The demo then got frankly creepy when Forstall received a message asking for a lunch date on Friday. He asked Siri, "Do I have any appointments on Friday?" Siri said he did not and so he said, "Reply: I can do Friday," which Siri immediately texted.

She's a very clever bit of kit and we're frankly a little bit afraid of her -- that sort of artificial intelligence is surely just one small jailbreak away from achieving sentience and then it's game over, humanity.

Forstall went on to ask, "Remind me to call my wife when I leave work." It apparently learns who people like 'wife' and presumably 'brother', 'mother' and maybe 'arch-enemy' are by your use of their names before -- perhaps you have to program them in to the contacts to begin with.

It was then able to set up a 'geofence' around Scott's office so that when his phone left the GPS-defined location, he would be notified of his important duties.

From what we've seen of Siri at the demo, we're very excited to get our hands -- or should that be mouths? -- on it. We're definitely looking forward to what she replies with when we ask her to "kill Rory".

We expect to see Siri built into the iPhone 4S, although whether it will be available as part of an iOS 5 update remains to be seen.

What do you think of Siri? Will you feel an idiot walking around talking to your phone or are you Siri-ously excited? Let us know your thoughts, questions and best Siri puns in the comments section below or over on our Facebook page.