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Talking to your computer



Apple announced the new iPhone 4S almost two weeks ago, and I knew it would be a hit. "It's going to go viral." We now know that more than 4 million new iPhones were sold over the weekend, by far the most spectacular new product launch in history. I got one of them late Friday afternoon, and I have been continually amazed at how great it is.

The two stand-out features are the camera and Siri, the new digital personal assistant. The camera takes fantastic pictures, it launches in seconds, and it has already made pocket cameras obsolete. But Siri is the real star. (My wife is jealous of Siri, that's how incredible she is.) The first question to my new phone was "Hi Siri, how are you today?" She replied, "I'm fine, thanks. What can I do for you today?"

While driving on Saturday, my wife mentioned that I needed to look at her car because it might have a fluid leak. I'll have to remember to do that when we get back, I said. She said, "why don't you ask your new assistant to remind you?" So I activated Siri, and said "Remind me Tuesday morning to check Norma's car." Siri immediately repeated what I had said and asked if that was correct. Yes, I replied, and she said "I've created a reminder for you."

Siri's ability to understand things amazed our guests over the weekend, and her ability to dish up facts and figures is astonishing (What is the circumfernce of the Earth? How many miles to San Francisco from here? Can you find an Argentine restaurant nearby?). Plus, she can take dictation with amazing accuracy.

The iPhone 4S must have been named that way for Siri. We can now talk to our computers, and this is only the beginning. (Siri is still in beta, and is bound to improve with time.) But you won't believe it until you have talked to this phone yourself.

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