Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chat With Your iPhone: Any Reason Why It Won't Work With iPhone 4?

Is there any reason why the rumored voice chat feature in iOS 5 will only work with up the updated hardware, iPhone 5?  What about the iPad 2?  This is purely speculation on my part so take it as some pleasurable reading with your morning coffee and muffin before you dive into the day's work.

A couple of days ago, the Apple blog world flared up with word of a new feature called "Assistant" in iOS 5, a feature previously rumored about but never confirmed.  Assistant, is possibly an integration of Siri, an app that Apple bought more than a year ago, into the OS.  Siri is a voice command app that allows the users to search for results simply by speaking into it.

For some, it's the next step in mobile computing.  For others, its a novelty.  For science fiction buffs, it's a step closer to chatting with one's computer like they do on Star Trek.  And to go a step further, it's Apple's way of inserting itself between the user and the information they need, bypassing traditional search engines like Bing and Google.

But the word coming out is that it'll require an A5 chip, the current chip being used in the iPad 2, the only iOS hardware with this chip.  And furthermore, it could require 1 GB of RAM.  If true, it would mean Assistant is not able to run on iOS devices currently on the market.

I don't buy that.  It makes very little sense.  This morning, another app similar to Siri, Dragon Go from Nuance, is updated with more features including Netflix, Yelp, and Wolfram|Alpha. WA should also be big a be part of Assistant if it isn't already a part of Siri already.

And Siri works just fine right now if not as intelligent as I think Assistant should be.  Besides, I reckon the backend of Assistant, like Siri, should be working on some server in the cloud, not directly on the iOS device.

Maybe there are new features in Assistant that might actually require an A5 chip with 1 GB of RAM.  Again, implausible.  Not even the iPad 2 has 1 GB.

So, for Apple to justify new hardware for this feature, Assistant better come with a really life-like voice, tell me bedtime stories, and be my new best friend and more.

For Apple fans who like to see iOS succeed at the cost of Google and Android, consider this. When Android 4 comes out and suppose it does have a feature similar to Assistant, I am willing to bet that it will not require the latest and greatest chips and the Nexus Prime in order to take advantage of it.

And unless Apple can convince us beyond the shadow of a doubt that Assistant requires new hardware, I hope Apple won't artificially inflate the need to upgrade.  At the very least, Assistant should also work with iOS devices equipped with the A4 chip, the chip inside the iPhone 4, original iPad, and the current generation iPod touch.

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