“Here’s To The Crazy Ones”: The Apple iPhone 4S Is Even For Psychopaths.
Are you a psychopath? Here’s simple instructions on how to use the new iPhone 4S, with Siri.
When Steve Jobs wrote “Here’s to the crazy ones” in the iconic Apple ad, we’re pretty sure he didn’t mean this kind of crazy.
While an insane, probably-should-be-institutionalized manchild may think that an iPhone, like the rest of the world, requires abnormal behavior to make sense of it all, it turns out that users can ask Siri questions without sacrificing bodily tissue or worshipping its power in the nude.
SAN FRANCISCO — Google can only hope that Steve Jobs’ final vendetta doesn’t haunt the Internet search leader from his grave.
The depths of Jobs’ antipathy toward Google leaps out of Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of Apple’s co-founder. The book goes on sale Monday, less than three weeks after Jobs’ long battle with pancreatic cancer culminated in his Oct. 5 death. The Associated Press obtained a copy Thursday.
The biography drips with Jobs’ vitriol as he discusses his belief that Google stole from Apple’s iPhone to build many of the features in Google’s Android software for rival phones.
It’s clear that the perceived theft represented an unforgiveable act of betrayal to Jobs, who had been a mentor to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and had welcomed Google’s CEO at the time, Eric Schmidt, to be on Apple’s board.
Jobs retaliated with a profane manifesto during a 2010 conversation with his chosen biographer. Isaacson wrote that he never saw Jobs angrier in any of their conversations, which covered a wide variety of emotional topics during a two-year period.
After equating Android to “grand theft” of the iPhone, Jobs lobbed a series of grenades that may blow a hole in Google’s image as an innovative company on a crusade to make the world a better place.
“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs told Isaacson. “I’m going to destroy Android because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this. They are scared to death because they know they are guilty.”
Jobs then used a crude word for defecation to describe Android and other products outside of search.
Android now represents one of the chief threats to the iPhone. Although iPhones had a head start and still draw huge lines when new models go on sale, Android devices sold twice as well in the second quarter. According to Gartner, Android’s market share grew 2 1/2 times to 43 percent, compared with 17 percent a year earlier. The iPhone’s grew as well, but by a smaller margin – to 18 percent, from 14 percent.
Both Google and Apple declined comment to The Associated Press when asked about Jobs’ remarks.
Jobs’ attack is troubling for Google on several levels.
It suggests that Apple, which has pledged to be true to Jobs’ vision, may try to derail Android in court, even if Google obtains more patent protection through its proposed $12.5 billion acquisition of phone maker Motorola Mobility Inc. The derision comes across as a bitter pill for Page and Brin, who have hailed Jobs as one of their idols. It also appears to contradict Schmidt’s repeated assertions that he remained on friendly terms with Jobs even after he resigned from Apple’s board in 2009.
Most of all, Google should be worried whether the Android brand is damaged by the withering criticism of a revered figure whose public esteem seems to have risen as friends, colleagues and customers paid tribute over the past few weeks.
“The words of cultural icons have a lot of power after death,” veteran technology analyst Rob Enderle said. “This almost sounds like a spiritual leader declaring a jihad on Android as his dying wish.”
Apple fans tend to be fiercely loyal, making it more feasible to envision an anti-Android movement taking shape like some kind of political protest, Enderle said.
It’s also possible that Jobs’ criticisms of Google may be seen as hypocritical. That’s because some of Apple’s computing breakthroughs were based on technology developed by others. The Mac’s easy-to-use interface and its mouse controller, for instance, came out of Xerox Corp.
The bitter divide between two of the most beloved and successful technology companies would have seemed inconceivable a few years ago.
In 2006, Google and Apple were on such friendly terms that Jobs welcomed Schmidt to Apple’s board of directors with these words: “Like Apple, Google is very focused on innovation and we think Eric’s insights and experience will be very valuable in helping to guide Apple in the years ahead,” Jobs said.
But in 2008, a year after the iPhone came out, Google unveiled plans to release Android as a free software system that phone makers can use to make devices that compete with the iPhone. Jobs was so infuriated that he went to Google’s Mountain View headquarters – about nine miles from Apple’s Cupertino office_ to try to stop the project, according to the biography.
Jobs’ persuasive powers failed to sway Google’s leaders.
Now, more than 550,000 devices running on Android are being activated each day. Apple, meanwhile, sold about 3 million fewer iPhones than anticipated in the July-September quarter, contributing to a sharp drop in the company’s stock. The newest Android challenger to the iPhone, the Galaxy Nexus from Samsung, is scheduled to go on sale next month.
Although there’s no indication in the book that he ever forgave Google, Jobs set aside his disdain for the company long enough to counsel Page nine months ago, according to the biography.
After Google’s Jan. 20 announcement that Page would replace Schmidt as CEO in April, Page called Jobs for some pointers. Jobs told Isaacson that his first instinct was to reject Page with a curt expletive, but he reconsidered as he recalled his times as a young entrepreneur listening to the advice of elder Silicon Valley statesmen including Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Co.
Jobs didn’t mince words when Page arrived at Jobs’ Palo Alto home. He told Page to build a good team of lieutenants. In his first week as Google’s CEO, Page reshuffled his management team to eliminate bureaucracy. Jobs also warned Page not to let Google get lazy or flabby.
“The main thing I stressed was to focus,” Jobs told Isaacson about his conversation with Page. “Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It’s now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest because they’re dragging you down. They’re turning you into Microsoft. They’re causing you to turn out adequate products that are adequate but not great.”
Page has shut more than 20 Google products and services in his first six months as Google’s CEO as part of an effort to “put more wood behind fewer arrows.” It was the type of discipline Jobs instilled on Apple when he returned in 1997 after a dozen years of exile. Jobs killed such products as the Newton handheld device and the PC clones that were allowed to run on Apple’s operating system.
It still remains to be seen whether Jobs’ words of wisdom or his grievances will leave a bigger imprint on Google.
No, your eyes don’t deceive you — Box is offering 50GBs of free storage inside its cloud for iOS users — just like it did for TouchPad owners back in June. Anyone who downloads the latest version of Box’s app for iPad and iPhone will receive their massive lot for data storage after registering a personal account (existing accounts can join in on the fun as well). To make better use of that extra space, Box will also be bumping upload capacity from 25MB to 100MB per file and baking in AirPlay support. Look, Box is obviously skitching on iCloud’s tail, but it sure seems like a crazy good deal considering that space is yours “forever.” The promotion will last for 50 days, officially starting at 12AM on October 14th — although, we’re already seeing the update on our end. By Joe Pollicino posted Oct 13th 2011 10:34PM
This isn’t the iPhone 5. No matter how badly you wanted something slim, sleek and wedge-shaped, this isn’t it. If you went ahead and got your hopes up ahead of Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event, hopefully you’ve gotten over the pangs of discontent by now, because this device pictured front and center is the iPhone 4S. It’s a new spin on an old phone that will shock none, but give it half a chance, and it will still impress.
The iPhone 4S comes with a faster processor, a better camera, a smarter virtual assistant and twice the storage of its predecessor — if you don’t mind paying for it. Like the iPhone 3GS did before to the 3G, the 4S bumps the iPhone 4 down to second-class status, leaving those Apple fans who must have the best aspiring to own its decidedly familiar exterior. Apple says this is the most amazing iPhone ever. Is it? Yes, of course it is, but read on to see whether it’s really worth an upgrade.
Familiar is a good term for the exterior of the iPhone 4S. When the 4 was unveiled in the summer of 2010 it was a strikingly different design from anything else on the market — glass on the front and back, exposed screws holding together a deliciously clean ring of stainless steel. It was kind of chunky and industrial, like a tastefully refinished factory loft — a big contrast to the smooth and nondescript models that came before. The iPhone 4 was something truly new and, for the days and weeks after its release, just spotting one in the wild caused a sensation. It was so different that people wanted to touch and hold the thing, to see how it felt in the hand.
Few are going to go out of their way to touch and hold the iPhone 4S, but that’s not to say it isn’t very nice to grasp. The iPhone 4 felt like a finely crafted piece of machinery and there’s no doubt this one walks in those very same footsteps. Compared to your average modern Android wunderphone the 4S feels small, dense and heavy, a very different sensation than the occasionally lighter but frequently more plasticky competition. The 4S does actually have slightly more heft than the 4, but only by carefully holding one in each hand can you notice the increase from 137 grams (4.83 ounces) to 140 (4.94 ounces).
Save for a few tweaks that even the most dedicated Appleista wouldn’t be able to spot at a distance, the 4S is identical from the exterior. A few of the controls have been shifted by fractions of a millimeter and this uses the same exterior antenna layout as the CDMA iPhone 4 that hit Verizon earlier this year. Rather more significantly, though, how it works with those antennas has changed.
The iPhone 4S can now intelligently and instantly switch between those exterior antennas, in real-time, even while you’re in the middle of a call. Will this successfully put to rest the iPhone’s reputation as a call dropper? That we’re not able to say conclusively at this time, as you really need masses of people hammering on a device to bring out its worst. (“Antennagate” didn’t come to light until a few days after the iPhone 4’s release.) But, in testing a Vodafone 4S against a 4 we found the 4S to be consistently one bar higher, and did a far better job of holding on to 3G data. Here in the States, our Sprint 4S kept right up with another device we had handy from the same carrier: the Nexus S 4G.
There have been a fair number of other tweaks on the inside. In fact it’s safe to say Apple threw out the lot of the iPhone 4’s guts and stuffed in a whole new batch, starting with the A5 processor. Yes, it’s the same dual-core chip that powers the iPad 2 and, while Apple isn’t saying, it’s running at 800MHz — a bit of a step down from the 1GHz it’s clocked at in the tablet. RAM unfortunately stays the same, at 512MB, but maximum available storage has doubled, matching the iPod touch by maxing out at 64GB.
The other major change to the internals comes in the wireless network support. This is a quadband UMTS / HSDPA / HSUPA (850, 900, 1,900, 2,100MHz) and quad-band GSM / EDGE (850, 900, 1,800, 1,900MHZ) device, while also offering dual-band CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (900, 1,900MHz). All that naturally means you’ll be getting 3G data on nearly every carrier in these lands and abroad, though those providers are still being cagey about just how much success you’ll have at porting the 4S from one to another — at least until the unlocked model shows up in November. There’s no 4G on offer, though AT&T’s 14.4Mbps HSPA+ service will leave you feeling a bit less out of touch.
Up front is the same 3.5-inch, 960 x 640 Retina display that wowed us 16 months ago on the iPhone 4. That 326ppi density is still quite a lovely thing to behold, surely one of the highest quality panels currently available today in a phone, but in nearly a year and a half the world has moved on. Smartphones are bigger than they were in 2010 and 3.5-inches seems on the small side of average. It’s a great size for those with moderately proportioned hands, and opinions certainly differ when determining what is the optimal girth for a smartphone (if, indeed, there is such a thing as optimal) but, after living with a 4.2-inch or larger device, looking at the digital world through a 3.5-inch portal feels just a bit… narrow.
Though it comes a few days after its release, the iPhone 4S ushers in the world of iOS 5. This latest revision of Apple’s mobile operating system helps to clean some of the dust off of what was starting to feel a bit dated without actually changing any fundamentals. iOS 5 introduces a slew of improvements and enhancements, some minor and some rather more major. We’ve already posted a particularly comprehensive iOS 5 review, so we won’t blather on about it any longer here except to say it’s a very solid update that will make your smartphone an even more seamless, integral part of your life.
The one thing we will blather on about quite a bit more here is Siri, your own digital helper. Siri is an evolution of the Siri Virtual Assistant, a spin-off of a DARPA project called CALO. Apple bought the company in early 2010 and now that functionality is baked right into the OS. Sort of.
Siri can only be found on the iPhone 4S, a curious and seemingly arbitrary shunning of the other iOS devices. We’ve heard that’s due to the processor demands required for voice recognition, but since you need an active data connection to use Siri we have to imagine that the heavy lifting for voice recognition is happening somewhere inside Apple’s massive data center, which would seemingly allow lower-spec devices to do the same. And, since the iPad 2 is running the A5 at an even higher clock speed, there’s just no good reason we can think of for putting Siri exclusively on the 4S. Let the poor girl out, we say.
Should you find yourself owning the requisite hardware to give Siri a shot, you’ll probably be pretty impressed with what she can do. Of course, “she” is a characteristic bit of anthropomorphism that we’ll apply to the same voice you’ve probably heard in a half-dozen GPS devices in the past, but still, calling her an “it” just seems a little wrong. Siri herself, though, wouldn’t mind. Ask her “Are you a man or a woman?” and her response is a curt “I was not assigned a gender.” We think she’s just playing hard to get.
Siri can do a huge number of things, from sending texts and emails to finding restaurants and getting directions from one place to another — things that, it must be said, could largely be done before by voice on other devices and platforms. It’s really the enhanced ability to understand casually spoken English mixed in with the notion of context that sets this apart.
Let’s talk about the context bit first. Say you want to send a text to your wife to remind her to pick up the dogs from boarding on the way home from work. You can just say, “Tell my wife don’t forget the dogs.” Siri will send your wife a message saying, “Don’t forget the dogs.” How does Siri know who your wife is? Well, she doesn’t at first, but she’ll ask, and once you tell her she’ll remember — until the end of time.
That context works in other situations, too, like receiving a text message from someone, asking Siri to check your calendar, and then just saying “Reply, I’ll see you then.” You don’t need to say who to reply to, Siri will remember. For the first time we feel less like we’re giving stiff commands to a device and more like we’re actually having a conversation. That said, you can still be as commanding as you like. Siri won’t mind.
And then there’s the other part that makes Siri good: you don’t have to remember the commands. At least, not as much as you do with Android. If you want directions on Google Navigation you have to specifically say “Directions to X.” With Siri you can say “Get me directions to X,” or you can say “Tell me how to get to X,” or even “Directions to X.” It’s a minor difference but it feels more like Siri is smart enough to figure out what you want, whereas the voice recognition elsewhere feels more like you have to be smart enough to remember to say what it wants. (Even so, we’d certainly prefer to use the far more polished Google Navigation than IOS’s Maps to get around.)
Still, this isn’t exactly unprecedented, apps like Vlingo do similar things elsewhere. Also, it should be noted that Siri isn’t necessarily any more accurate than other offerings. We did a side-by-side comparison of the dictation abilities of iOS 5 vs. those built into Android and Windows Phone and found them to be similar. Android’s dictation services, though rather less friendly than Siri and requiring a few more taps on the display, were every bit as accurate. Windows Phone, however, struggled to provide consistently accurate transcriptions, often missing words and getting more complex statements wrong. For example, the spoken text “Kurt Vonnegut lived near Schenectady, New York,” one time resulted in the message “Could I get laid in your Schenectady New York.” An interesting message that Mr. Vonnegut would have likely approved, but wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.
It’s in going the other way that Siri has even more potential, saying that you have a new message and then promptly reading it to you — then letting you reply by voice. The biggest issue here, though, is that you can’t have emails read to you, which means you can’t fully reply by voice. (You can do voice dictation, but you’ll need to trigger that with your fingers.)
This potentially could be a boon for people who would rather listen to their inbox than NPR on the commute home from work, and indeed it is, but the functionality here is a little more limited than we’d like. For example, you can tell Siri to look up something on Wolfram Alpha, and that she’ll dutifully do, but she won’t read you the response. You have to look at the phone, likely thanks to Wolfram Alpha rendering its results as images rather than plain text.
A truly good assistant will look up whatever you ask and promptly tell you the answer — not print it out and make you read it. Having to still fish your phone out of your pocket for some things makes Siri rather less wonderful than she could be, but she’s very impressive nevertheless. And, more importantly, this signals that Apple is taking a real interest in improving voice recognition and hands-free device interaction. That should mean some amazing progress from here, and we can’t wait to talk to the next generation Siri.
We also hope that Siri’s siblings will be able to run offline, because today’s girl requires a 3G or WiFi connection to do anything. Even the simple voice commands that were available in iOS before no longer work offline, and if you happen to be one of the few who actually used those commands to change tunes while offline, you’re sadly going to have to find another way. We also hope that she broadens her horizons a bit, as much of Siri’s functionality (directions, looking up businesses) doesn’t work in Europe.
Battery life and performance
The teardown of the iPhone 4S revealed a new battery pack that’s just a wee bit bigger than that found in the 4 (5.3Whrs vs. 5.25) so the promised increase in longevity found here must come from more efficient internals. And that’s a very good thing — we’d prefer to see phones get more frugal than simply progressing on to bigger and heavier batteries.
Apple promises up to eight hours of battery life on an active 3G connection, which is up one hour from the 4. Curiously, though, standby time has dropped from 300 hours on the 4 to 200 on the 4S. (This phone is, apparently, something of a restless sleeper.) Other stats remain the same: 14 hours on GSM, 10 hours of video watching and 40 hours of listening to tunes. Alas we’ve not yet been able to complete our full suite of battery tests (we’ll update this when we do).
But it’s not all about the benchmarks, and we’ve been overall quite impressed by the performance of the 4S in general tasks. We remain continually impressed by the performance of the iPhone 4 — despite its aging assets, it still performs like a young smartphone in its prime. In other words, we’re not seeing aparticularly strong difference between day-to-day usage of the two devices. Yes, your apps will load a little more quickly and react more responsively and your webpages will render more snappily, but Apple already did such a good job of ensuring solid performance on the 4 that this upgrade seems rather less than necessary.
Of course, that could all change when we start to see some games able to make use of the extra firepower the iPhone 4S has at its disposal. At the phone’s coming out party Epic showed off Infinity Blade 2 and wowed us with very impressive graphics. The problem is, that game isn’t due out until December, and we’re not aware of other similarly eye-popping 4S-exclusive titles in the pipeline that will be dropping before then.
The final aspect of performance is network speed and, as ever, your mileage can and will vary greatly depending on the relative strength or weakness of carriers in your area. But, regardless of carrier, the lack of LTE here is a definite disappointment. Top-tier phones on Android almost universally feature a fourth gee and, with Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T all finally onboard the LTE train to 4G Town, it’s about time the iPhone hitched a ride too. Its omission surely helps battery life but hurts this device’s status as a world-conquering wunderphone.
We tested a Sprint version of the phone and found that, with full bars on 3G, download speeds were averaging about 1Mbps down and .9Mbps up, with pings hovering around 70ms. Comparing that to a Nexus S 4G (with WiMAX disabled), also running on Sprint, we found download speeds to be quite comparable. Signal strength between the two phones was comparable as well.
Apple is quite proud of the iPhone 4’s status as the most popular camera on photo sharing sites like Flickr, and now the company is finally giving all those guerilla photogs something good to capture pictures with. As was long rumored, the iPhone 4S steps up to an eight megapixel, backside-illuminated sensor that sits behind a new lens array with an f/2.4 aperture (improved from the old phone’s f/2.8). More megapixels certainly don’t equate to better pictures, but it’s safe to say the new camera package here impresses.
But, what will impress you first is the speed. Apple is quite proud of the speed improvements for bringing up the camera app and taking the first picture, and it is a noticeable improvement over the 4 — except when using the HDR mode that was introduced in iOS 4.1. Here it doesn’t seem to be much if any quicker at all. Leave that off, though, and you’ll be hopping from one shot to the next like someone who hasn’t got time for shutter lag.
In our initial camera testing, we put ourselves into tourist mode: walking around, taking random pictures of things that tourists would. The quality of the resulting shots is definitely good, among the top top tier of shooters we’ve tested. The phone doesn’t seem to be bothered by big differences in contrast (like the Galaxy S II) and does a good job focusing quickly and accurately — we only had one or two missed macro shots.
Video quality is also top-notch. The iPhone 4S will record at 1080p30 and we found the footage to be clear and bright. Auto-focus happens quickly and we didn’t detect any obnoxious focus-hunting.
Overall the improvements on the camera are tangible and appreciated, but there’s one thing Apple sadly failed to fix here: its location. The peep-hole for the lens is still too close to the edge of the device for our tastes, which resulted in many a stray finger sneaking into our shots. We’d have liked to see it sneak its way a little further toward the center of the phone.
Is this the best iPhone yet? Yes, of course it is. The iPhone 4S takes the previous king, gives it some more pep and adds on a better camera to boot, all without really gaining any extra weight. This is, then, the best iPhone on the market, but that still leaves us with two unanswered questions: is it the best phoneon the market, and is it worth the upgrade?
The first question is hard to answer. If you’re into iOS, have a wealth of App Store purchases you’d like to keep using and in general are down with the Apple ecosystem then, yes, this is the best phone out there. If, however, you’ve been shopping around, or are already tight with Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry or Meego (hey, the N9 is pretty great) then it’s hard to see this as a truly forward-looking device. The 3.5-inch display and abject lack of 4G connectivity alone make this phone feel a little too conservative to really tickle the fancy of those looking for something a bit more progressive.
So, then, is it worth the upgrade? Well, if your contract happens to be up and you want an iPhone andyou haven’t already jumped on the iPhone 4 then yes, this is the one you want. It does come at a $100 premium over its predecessor, but in the long run that premium will be worth it as the 4S will surely be supported by Apple for a good bit longer than the 4 (as the 3GS continues to be, while the 3G is now fading into obsolescence). But, if you’re mid-contract or haven’t quite yet been wooed by all that iOS has to offer, we’d recommend sitting this one out. The iPhone 4S does everything better than the iPhone 4, but it simply doesn’t do anything substantially different.
Zach Honig and Mat Smith contributed to this review.