There has been a lot of controversy over Apple’s iPhone event tomorrow. Recent evidence has suggested that the company won’t be unveiling a device with an all-new design, but one similar to the iPhone 4 with improved internals.

Skeptics believe that an iPhone 4S wouldn’t be enough to power Apple’s smartphone sales in the face of growing competition. Why would anyone choose a non-4G device with a 3.5″ screen over offerings like the Galaxy S II? Assistant of course…

In a recent interview with 9to5Mac, Siri co-founder Norman Winarksy gave his opinion on Siri’s technology and what Apple’s rumored Assistant feature would mean to the world:

“Make no mistake: Apple’s ‘mainstreaming’ Artificial Intelligence in the form of a Virtual Personal Assistant is a groundbreaking event. I’d go so far as to say it is a World-Changing event. Right now a few people dabble in partial AI enabled apps like Google Voice Actions, Vlingo or Nuance GO. Siri was many iterations ahead of these technologies, or at least it was two years ago. This is REAL AI with REAL market use. If the rumors are true, Apple will enable millions upon millions of people to interact with machines with natural language. The PAL will ge things done and this is only the tip of the iceberg. We’re talking another technology revolution. A new computing paradigm shift.”

Thirty years ago, Apple mainstreamed the mouse as an input device for computers. Four years ago, it mainstreamed the finger as an input device for cell phones. Now it appears that Apple is doing it again, this time with speech.

So will all of this equal handset sales? You bet. Apple’s legendary marketing team will take Assistant and run with it, drawing in millions of consumers in the process. But what about iPhone 4 owners? Will they drop another $200 to upgrade to a 4S?

Word on the street is that Assistant is very hardware-intensive. So much so, that it may require the next iPhone’s expected A5 processor and 1GB of RAM to run properly. If you want to use Assistant, it looks like you’ll have to upgrade.

What do you think? Will Assistant be enough to drive iPhone 4S sales?


  • David

    Not really interested

    • sean

      You say that now , but like every other apple innovation , ppl brag when its implemented on another device. and say “its not stealing, its evolution of technology”

      • David

        Nope I’m simply not interested in this particular feature

      • David

        Nope I’m simply not interested in this particular feature.

      • kurt

        im not interested either. i feel so strongly that this will be another feature people wont use…how many people hold down the home button for a few seconds to talk to the voice control so they can ask for a song to be played? anyone? hello? i didnt think so. why do you people think this feature will be used??

    • I disagree with David, but only partially disagree…..

      I’m skeptical – I have chased this voice to text and personal assistant feature so many times over the last 10 years, but never been able to find one that is intuitive enough.

      The telephone call centers with their automated attendants are getting a little better – but 95% of the time I end up having to call out “Customer Service” a hundred times to finally talk to a live person who can really understand my wish.

      About NUANCE – humm…… I bought the formerly named “Dragon Naturally Speaking” which only worked nominally at best! It was touted to be the best and most intelligent speech recognition of all time…. Hohumm, I guess we can only wait and see.

      All that said – I would LOVE it if it really did work as we saw in last week’s simulation video that was posted here on iDB. However, I have my doubts.

      I am still in contract with AT&T on my cool iPhone 4 – will I pay extra to upgrade to iPhone 5 for Assistant… NO.

      However, perhaps by this time next year in 2012 when the next iPhone 6 is revealed, Apple will have had a year to make Assistant much better, I’ll be out of contract and my phone will be a little more scratched up and ready for an upgrade. (Now, I just have to hope the Mayan Calendar isn’t correct about Dec. 2012… LOL!!! )

      – Eric

  • jedooonat

    I smell jailbreak tweaks on this one. I think the jb devs are gonna take Assistant and run with it like then did with VoiceActivator. I know that there are going to be people that will probably dismiss this feature, but until you actually use it regularly….you won’t be able to appreciate the value of the feature. And if you are looking for an example…., check out Dragon Go in the App Store and/or VoiceActivator in Cydia.

  • its looking kool. wel lets c wats happened tommorow.

    Waiting to upgrade

  • Jay

    I can not stress this enough…not even 1/2 of the iPhone users will use this feature. And probably 1/3 of that half won’t even know what it is, does, or even know they have it. This is just like FaceTime. It looks great portrayed on a big stage, and look, we can do what the Jetsons did, but when you are the only one in your circle that has an iPhone, the wow factor is over. And that’s going to be the same thing with this. It’s going to look amazing on stage (kinda like iCloud too) but when its all over, people will mess with it for about an hour or two and go “huh, I don’t know when I’ll really use this…” Software is not the key feature in the cell phone market, it’s the hardware and the design. This is a 15 month old device, soon to be a 24 month old device. I hope this 4S and it’s Assistant feature all fail.

    • Frank

      fucking hater

      • James

        Fucking fanboy, always the same shit wi people that suck apple’s dong and can’t take simple facts.

      • Juan

        that’s a useful opinion Frank.

      • Jay

        i’m not a hater by any means. I’ve had nearly every iPhone that has entered the market (3G, 3GS, and 4). I love my iPad, and macbook. i am a fan of Apple. But I am also a common consumer, and customer. I have looked at this phone in my hand for 15 months. I’ve sat and waited for something amazing to wow’d by, and “Assistant” isn’t it. Again, it is a feature that not even half the iPhone owners with use. When the 3GS was launched, there wasn’t as much competition. Waiting 15 months to bring out this dated design back out for another 12-13 months is not a smart move. Plain and simple. But as I’ve said, some Apple employee with use their reality distortion training and say “We kept the same design, because it’s so beautiful. And there is nothing else like it on the market…” WRONG. The iPhone 4 looks exactly like, It’s the same phone. Most people don’t care about internals, beside from a camera. And most users when told the difference between i4 and i5 is the “A5 chipset” will look and go “Oh…what’s that mean?” I’m not a hater. I am a common consumer and customer that was expecting more for a 15 month wait.

    • David

      Someone that makes sense. Minus the failure part

      • Sos

        Its funny cuz assume its a FACT that it will look the same. Ur already disappointed about something u kno nothing about. Everything is rumors. Just relax and wait and see..

    • Lucas K.

      I wholeheartedly agree. They’ve had 16-ish months to work on the new phone hardware and if it’s a similar design I’m still not sure if the iOS 5 upgrades will be enough to keep me as an iPhone user. That Samsung Galaxy SII is pretty enticing at this point.

    • kurt

      no way more than 5% will use this regularly.

      who uses the Voice Control feature? no one does. people don’t want to talk to the phone and have it do things for them. it seems like it would be a featured people would use. but they won’t.

  • James

    I have absolutely no interest in this, iCloud, infact so many things on the iPhone are a waste of time. All I care about is the speed fo the device, the look of the device and the camera and much like many other people an upgraded iPhone 4 will not do, i’ll be quite happy to switch to Android if that proves to be the case.

    • Juan

      are you expecting an exit ceremony? switch to android and quit crying already.

      • James

        Who’s crying, does the truth hurt or something, I smell a fanboy !! .. I’m glad I have your approval to switch though, I don’t think I could have taken the leap without your blessing … Douchebag.

    • Mike

      you are talking out of your rear. lol. the iphone 4s does have more speed, a better camera that opens faster and a slim and sleek look. Everything you desire. Besides, no droid runs as smooth as an iphone. they all glitch and chop around. the iphone is fairly flawless. the icloud is awesome and you will be surprised how well the siri voice recognition works. you WILL use it when you get a 5 and think back to now and wish you got a 4s. If you have a 4, like I do, then we can download ios 5 for free in 10 days and get a bunch of the features. If you want speed and a better camera, upgrade man. Dont knock the new product tho

  • DomPerignon

    I won’t use and I don’t care about Assistant at all. I’ve always had problems with these “speech to actions” gimmicks.

  • Juan

    I’ll admit, I don’t really use the voice activator (in fact, I have it disabled completely) and I don’t use FaceTime. Even on the stage, this AI doesn’t seem all that interesting to me. But, I’d rather tinker with it before I say I’ll never use it.

  • Sam

    If an uprgarde to an iPhone that looks the same is required after 1 year to use software..that’s cruel punishment. It made sense after time for the 3G to be ruled out of the multi tasking..that was what..2-3years?? I will not be happy if I am shafted software after just acquiring the iPhone 4.

  • Prabhu

    speech to action is the toughest task to perform. Becos action is universal but speech is regional. All countries have their own accent.

  • Ouss

    I think apple will not dissapoint, and if they do, it’ll be their loss & that tough competition out there today will drive apple & act as a detterrent

  • Ouss

    I think apple will not dissapoint, and if they do, it’ll be their loss & that tough competition out there today will drive apple & act as a deterrent. Thank God for competition

  • Rich

    I have had an iPhone for the last 3 years, and I do enjoy the operating system over an Android system. It’s more reliable, but I’m in no way interested in Assistant. iCloud is a cool concept, but I go home everyday, and I back my phone up. The only new feature in iOS 5 that I truely care about is the Notification Center. And since that works just fine on the iPhone 4, I won’t be upgrading to a 4S. Granted the Camera and other Internals may be upgraded, but I’m satisfied with my iPhone 4’s speed. I get every other iPhone, and unless they completely change something, I may just skip this one as well.

  • Woody

    I’ve had every iphone except the 3G. I can say that upgrading to the 4s because of assistance is not going to make me want the new phone. I don’t use Voice Control at all. I tried it and hated it so I disabled it all together. The only that will make me get the next iphone is more ram and storage. I want to see 1GB of ram and 64 GB of storage. Oh yeah and the A5 chip will be nice for gaming. I just want my phone fast.

  • Andrew

    I’ll personally be disappointed if the only new features are an A5, more memory, a better camera, and the assistant. But people will still buy it. There are plenty of people still using older iphones (older than the iphone 4), and new customers who want an iphone, but are awaiting the new release before purchasing. It will still sell. The iphone still has the apps that people have purchased, and the link/sync to itunes going for it for existing iphone users. Even if those users are otherwise willing to switch to android, I think a lot of them hesitate when they have to figure out how to get their entire itunes library onto the new phone, and realize that they will lose all of their existing apps that they’ve paid for, some of which might be expensive (ie a navigation app).

    But heck, the 4S might have “4G” right? (Not true 4G that is, 3.5G for the AT&T version). That could be worth it in addition to the rest of the features. But of course this is just speculation like everything else. We won’t know for sure until tomorrow.

    The assistant is definitely intriguing. Whenever I use my phone while driving, I wish I had a speech to text app that was integrated (like android). If this fits that bill, and beyond, cool, it’s been a long time coming. I’m sick enough of typing on that little keyboard when I’m sitting on my couch, let alone while I’m driving (I know I shouldn’t be doing that, which is why I want speech to text).

    But change the world? A bold claim indeed. *IF* and that’s a big IF, it works as advertised, and I can talk to it in my normal voice, phrasing, wording, slang, etc, ie however the hell I want — how I would talk to a human assistant — and it understands and acts without fail, that definitely could be a game/world changer, but I have my doubts as to just how good the AI here is.

  • Spencer

    Tend to agree that if we see 4s rather than revamped new looking hardware then my justification to upgrade will die. I skipped the 3Gs because there was no visual change and the added speed didn’t really up the game for me on 3.1.3 at the time. Then out came iOS 4 and it killed the 3G dead. It was missing features and ran like a Comadore Vic20. Thats when the 3Gs gained its apeal for me. I couldn’t wait for iPhone 4.

    I’m not sure if Assistant will cut the mustard but if it does it will be a game changer. Apple really could have revolutionised the Smart Phone again. It took me about 5 mins to type this on my iPhone. That would be reduced to seconds IF we can just dictate…… IF it truly works. That is one MASSIVE IF.

  • Seriously the assistant isn’t something that hasn’t been used before and we haven’t needed it before
    The feature may be available in ios5 but will you seriously use it
    I know I won’t use it so for me it’s redundant all ready

    • Spencer

      That’s because everything that recognises voice, other than humans is complete shite.. What if this really works?

      • If it dose work can you see yourself using it ?

  • AB

    I don’t mind the same shape but if the screen size is the same, even with assistant, I’m not buying (and I’ve had every iPhone).

  • Irha

    With millions of calls made to goog411 and all that opportunity Google had to improve their speech recognition, they are still far off from being perfect, so it is suspicious to read that Siri would somehow be so much ahead of others. If the accuracy is bad, it just takes one attempt for you to disable the feature and never go back to it.

  • Phil

    Its a MS paperclip that talks to me and listens??? MS have a patent for that!

  • Mike

    I am going to wait for an iPhone 5 . I’ve gotten along for a long time without Siri . The fact that they didn’t improve the screen size is outrageous . And I guarantee that sales will in no way see the clouds they are expecting. As a matter of fact I believe that by not improving screen size some will turn to other smart phones . I will now seriously think about switching to droid. It also has a state of the art voice comand. Oh well if you play like this things will happen.

  • Mike

    I am going to wait for an iPhone 5 . I’ve gotten along for a long time without Siri . The fact that they didn’t improve the screen size is outrageous . And I guarantee that sales will in no way see the clouds they are expecting. As a matter of fact I believe that by not improving screen size some will turn to other smart phones . I will now seriously think about switching to droid. It also has a state of the art voice comand.

  • VP

    Well… I’m one of the 5% who do use Voice Control, and I don’t want a bigger screen. Please. No bigger screen. I have an iPad for that. I want iCloud. And I want to keep being able to use Siri, which I already have on my iPhone4. I’m not planning to upgrade to the 4S, I’ll wait for the next iteration, but just don’t take Siri away. That would not be fair.