Meet Siri

Her name is Siri.  She has a clear, pleasant voice, ready to help me stay connected to the world, solve a problem or answer a question.  She’s my accomplice, my girl Friday, and my loyal sidekick.  Like a wise and true friend, she’s silent when I want her to be.  Dressed in black, she’s fashionable and ultra contemporary with strong, sleek lines.  After she learned my first name, she began using it to address me when she speaks.  I like that.  She is familiar yet respectful and makes no demands.  She’s not one of those high maintenance BFFs.  She sends my emails, text messages, makes my appointments and gives me reminders. 

Her name is Siri and I got her at the Apple Store.  She’s the new personal assistant on the iPhone 4S.  The first day with any new smart phone is filled with learning new features and functions.  I was already familiar with many of them so I spent time getting acquainted with Siri.

A touch of the control button connects you with Siri and allows you to voice your question.  Tell her you feel like a pizza and she will give you a list of the pizza restaurants nearest you. 

pizza near you

Ask her, “Do these jeans make me look fat?” and she’ll give you a list of stores in your vicinity that sell jeans.  I haven't figured out if that's a negative response or not.  She's definitely diplomatic and a smart cookie.  I asked her to call my husband.  She knew who he was and asked me which of his two phone numbers I should use. 

When I first told her my name, I was tempted to say "Your Highness" thinking it could be fun to be addressed like royalty, but then maybe people around me wouldn't see the humor.  Of course, trying to find Siri's boundaries brought to mind lots of other silly ideas and questions like, what is the meaning of life.  She often had amusing answers.  The one I liked best was when I asked her, “Siri, what do you look like?”  See her one word reply on the screen below.


After a wonderful first day together, I woke up the next morning ready for more exploration.   Unfortunately, no new friendship is perfect.   Imagine my disappointment when all she would say was, “I can’t connect to the network.”  After going online, I discovered many new phone owners had the same problem.  Apple offered a solution that worked for me but not for everyone.  I’m sure this beta version of Siri will have its glitches but I’m okay with that and eagerly willing to report issues if it will help Apple perfect this wonderful tool. 

A Few Of The iPhone4S Features 

Voice Recognition

This morning I took my new phone with me for my usual walk around the lake.  It has replaced my former device, the iPod Touch.  I often used the Touch with a voice memo app to dictate articles while I walked.  When I got home I would sit at my computer and transcribe what I had recorded, typing it into my computer.   

With my iPhone 4S, I now have a more efficient way of writing articles.  I tried it this morning.  By setting up a new email and touching the microphone icon on the keypad,


I can dictate the article while the device types my words which then appear on the screen.  While there are times when the transcribing would stop, I haven’t had the phone long enough to determine if it’s because it can only transcribe a specific amount of data, or if I may have paused too long between thoughts.  In either case, it’s not a problem because simply touching the microphone icon again will resume the recording right where it stopped.  When I was done dictating this article, I emailed it to myself.  By the time I got home, it was waiting for proof reading on my computer.

The article was not perfect.  There were a number of mistakes.  I’ve discovered I don’t enunciate as perfectly as I should, but the majority of the article was complete, and clean up was accomplished quickly.


While at the lake I took photos of the unusual fog using my iPhone camera.  Photos are an incredibly good quality because of the 8 megapixel resolution.  

lake fog


Siri will remind me to pick up the dry cleaning when I leave the house or remind me that the dinner in the oven is ready to come out.

Apple Store Drama

Over the years I have had an ongoing love affair with Apple products but I never stood in line to buy one.  I've haven't been one of those “have to have it right now” people.  This phone was different somehow. 

I arrived at the Apple store a little before 8AM to find a long line of people ahead of me.  Some had been there since 6AM.  Apple employees offered us water bottles and coffee along with useful information to help our purchase go smoothly.  Before we reached the doors, we had a ticket in hand with the model, service provider and color of the phone we selected.  The ticket guaranteed that our choice would not be sold out once we got inside.  Having the ticket was like a done deal.  

Although there was a line, it was not the kind that made TV news. It took about an hour and a half to get into the store and actually hold an iPhone 4S in my hand. The genius bar was stacked with box after box containing new iPhones, surely more than enough for this crowd.  I figured I was home free.  But that’s when the drama began. 

The handheld device used by the employee to ring up my purchase was not responding.  I initially thought it was an isolated problem.  One look around the crowded store revealed a bigger issue, a server on overload.  I don’t know if it was Apple’s or AT&T’s, but frustrated shoppers and employees twiddled their thumbs for more than an hour until we got the green light.

Apple offered waiting customers a tutorial on the new iPhone while the server problem was investigated.  We learned about all the new features of the phone. This was actually a blessing because it is the kind of thing I would normally do on the Internet after I got home.  Doing it in-store gave everyone the chance to ask questions and be up and running with their phone by the time they left the store.

After about three hours I headed for home.  There were no lines of people waiting.  Apparently I could have arrived after 11AM and just breezed in and out.

iPhone Service Companies, Extra Costs And Discounts

  • Three companies currently offer iPhone services  – Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T.  There’s talk of T-Mobile joining the club in 2012.
  • If you’re thinking about buying the new iPhone 4S, there may be some numbers you should be aware of.  When you pay for your phone, the sales tax may seem excessive.  It is.  That’s because you’re paying tax on the original $649 price of the phone and not on the $199 Apple charged you.  Who pays the difference?  AT&T.
  • A basic AT&T service plan will cost $60 a month.  That includes a generous data plan and no texting.  iPhone users can text other iPhone users free.  You can add another person to the AT&T plan for $10.
  • Do you belong to a union?  Check the list at AT&T to see if your union qualifies for a 15% discount on your monthly bill.

Considering iCloud, music, FaceTime, Siri, wireless printing and so many other extraordinary features, I feel this purchase was well worth the bit of drama I experienced at the Apple Store. 

Fortunately, I've said about all I need to say on this topic because I have to end this article now.  I just got a reminder from Siri, that the movie I want to see starts in 20 minutes.