Our iPhone 5′s arrived late yesterday. We ordered them four weeks ago, on the first day that Apple accepted orders, and dutifully waited. Not that there was any great urgency. Our two-year-old iPhone4′s work just fine. But we had paid off the AT&T subsidy for them many months ago, and that means part of our monthly payment to AT&T was pure profit for them. I’d rather it pay for the next phone, so we upgraded.
I spent last night setting mine up, then experimenting with it. This morning, my experimentation became more narrowly focused, as I put Siri through her paces. Impressions so far:
1. The iPhone 5 seems noticeably faster than the iPhone 4. That’s at home, on wi-fi, which is to say, the speed increase is due to the processor.
2. It also seems faster when I’m out of range of wi-fi and using AT&T’s 4G LTE data connection, which they made available in Seattle the day before the new iPhones were released. I find that I switch back and forth between LTE and ordinary 4G as I move around. I haven’t tried it out enough to get a sense of the difference in download speed.
3. I know the camera should be a significant upgrade, but again, I haven’t tested it enough yet.
4. Phone calls sound significantly improved in sound quality.
5. I like the feel — thinner and lighter. Yet, the extra height does make for unexpected awkward moments when I’m holding it with just my right hand. If I’m holding it high up, where I can reach the volume buttons with my index finger, then reaching down to the lower buttons with my thumb isn’t comfortable. One benefit of the extra height is that when I view the calendar with the phone rotated to landscape view, I get a five-day view rather than the three-day view of the iPhone 4. I will enjoy that.
6. Siri. I tried lots of requests this morning. Some worked, some didn’t. Like, who won the 1982 World Series? Nope. Doesn’t go back that far. Okay, so then, who won the 2008 World Series? No again. Who won in 2011? Success. And in an attractive way. Not only did Siri tell me that the Cardinals won over the Rangers, but also she brought up on the screen the summary scoring of all seven games, that is, the standard two-line list of runs scored inning by inning.
I asked for the capitals of Washington and North Carolina. She displayed information on each pulled from Wolfram Alpha.
I asked Siri to call “my wife”. One problem with this — in my contact file for myself, I didn’t list Gail as my wife. Siri asked if I wanted to edit my file. This evening, I’ve added wife, son, daughter, father, mother, sister, brother. I won’t have that problem again.
I asked Siri to send an email to Gail. That worked, but I didn’t speak out my punctuation and Siri didn’t offer any. Then I asked Siri to send an email to me, and I spoke “comma”, “period”, and “question mark” at the appropriate places. That worked.
I asked for temperatures in various cities. This worked well, as Siri brought up on the screen the data for the city that one would ordinarily see in the built-in iPhone weather app. Much easier than typing the city in. But just now I tried again, asking for the temperature in Los Angeles, and Siri has told me — twice in succession — that something’s wrong, I should try again. On my third try, just now, I asked for Honolulu. Same problem.
Which gets to the main defect I’ve been discovering: Siri’s unreliability. If she could do some things consistently and others not at all, fine. I can learn what works, what doesn’t, and act accordingly. But I can’t figure her out. She’s way too fickle so far.
Now she’s handling temperatures just fine. It’s 64 in LA, if you’re wondering.
Directions? So far so good. I ask how to get to X, she finds X in my contacts, finds my current position, and tells me what to do. Let me try something. Not so good. If I ask how to drive to my brother’s house, she doesn’t seem to figure out who my brother is, whereas if I ask for directions using his name, she has no trouble.
Texting is great. I just told Siri to send a text to Gail, then I dictated it. Siri offered me a perfect rendering, asked whether to send it, I said yes, and it’s sent. That’s much easier than typing the text.
And I’ll never be lost again. I’ve asked Siri, “Where am I?” She knows.
That’s it for now.