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How Siri Works

iTunes made the record store digital, the iPhone took communication into the space age, and Siri (pronounced Sir-ree) is Apple’s latest step toward our technological future.


Siri, a voice recognition feature that Apple developed for iPhone 4S, allows iPhone users to quickly access information just by asking your phone. 

Science Fiction, Science Fact 
The iPhone 4S is the fastest selling iPhone ever. AT&T reported it activated a million of the devices over a three-day period. And now those million-plus people are asking Siri for weather reports, restaurant recommendations and to text their wife. But did you know that Apple actually created the Siri back in 1987? Really. And then it was called the Knowledge Navigator.

Think of it like the Jetsons’ version of Google. Don’t believe us? See for yourself:

Apple also predicted when the technology would come to market, way back in 1987. Take a close look at the dates in the Knowledge Navigator video; the professor is looking for a paper from 2006, “about five years ago.” The date on the professor’s calendar is September 16. That would make it September 16, 2011. Apple predicted the technology – a natural-language voice assistant (built into a touchscreen Apple device) – but missed the date…but by only a month.

Can You Hear Me Now?
The Star Trek talking computer we grew up with as science fiction is now science fact. Voice recognition is considered the pinnacle of technology control.

But voice-controlled technology represents problems, though. People and their voices are unique, we pronounce words differently, and in many cases, with a regional accent. Apple believes the voice technology it has created is advanced enough to work. And, amusingly, it does.

Apple’s Siri voice recognition, still in beta, is a natural language-based voice assistant built into iOS 5 and at the center of the iPhone 4S features.

People have been putting Siri to the test across the U.S., asking her to “open the pod bay doors.” (See how 2001: A Space Odyssey predicted the future.)

It’s amazing to see what people do with technology and even more amazing to see what developers can do with smartphones these days. App development for iPhone and iPad is big business and consumers keep the demand high for apps and cutting-edge technology, such as Siri.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Apple,News Blog and have No Comments

iPhone 4S Available Oct. 14, iOS 5 Available Oct. 12, iPhone 5 ?

Based on what Apple did with the iPhone 3, we should have seen this one coming. But now we can finally separate fact from fiction. Today Apple wooed fans, technology followers and industry insiders but, for the most part, let down expecting iPhone5 owners at the “Lets Talk iPhone” event.


Inside Apple’s Town Hall conference center.

Introducing Tim Cook…
A thoughtful and steady Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, took the stage of Apple’s Town Hall. This was the same place Apple introduced the iPod; would this be also the place they would put it to death, as rumors had speculated? Thankfully, no. But Apple had other surprises and no, sadly, Steve Jobs did not make an appearance. Instead, news vans and tech writers swarmed the event in Cupertino, California, and mainly they came looking for a new iPhone.

“This is my first product launch since being named CEO.  I’m sure you didn’t know that,” Cook said upon taking the stage. “I love Apple and consider it the privilege of a lifetime to have worked here for 14 years and to assume this role. Today we’ll remind you of the uniqueness of this company as we announce innovations from our mobile OS, to apps, services and hardware.”

With that the show began. Apple started by unveiling the next upgrades for its coveted iPod and iPhone lines.

“Rumors of the iPod’s Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated.” 
The iPod launched 10 years ago. iTunes and the iPod have “revolutionized” the music industry, Cook said. Apple sold 45 million iPods last year alone. Sixteen billion song downloads have been served up to people all over the globe. According to Apple, the company is “very happy with the music business.” So Apple, most of all, must be surprised by the recent rumor that Apple might kill the iPod.

Instead, Apple said, it updated some apps. For example, the little tiny postage stamp touchscreen device called the iPod Nano. People use it for exercise, so Apple improved the pedometer software to keep records of your running and walking. Apple also built a “watch” app so you can wear your iPod Nano like a wristwatch. iPod Nano now sells for $129 for 8GB or $149 for 16GB.

Meanwhile, the best-selling iPod Touch will get iMessage for texting (via iOS5). At $229 for 8GB, it’s $30 cheaper. (32GB for $299, 64GB for $399, but no new hardware was discussed). iPods, like the iPhone and iPad, are powered by the iOS, and Apple took that opportunity to talk about…

iOS 5
Packed with amazing new features, Apple’s iOS 5 could be the best iOS upgrade to date. There are lots of new features: Notifications upgrades, which now allows you to see a message dashboard from the lock screen.


Reminders, iMessage and more are all a part of iOS5 and iPhone 4S. 

iMessage is text messaging app for Apple users. No more carrier texting fee; you can send photos, video and more using iMessage. While Reminders is an advanced to-do list that can remind you to perform tasks based on where you are, such as popping up a message when you get to work or home. iOS5 will be available on October 12th.

They also talked iPads, and about how 250 million iOS devices have been sold, but we came to hear about the iPhone and after about a half hour, Apple got to the point.


This was the first Apple media event in more than a decade that Steve Jobs wasn’t hosting.

Let’s Talk iPhone
The iPhone 4 has made up for more than one-half of all the iPhones sold since Apple introduced the iPhone, and according to Apple, the company is “pummeling the competition,” and growing the installed base faster than any other smartphones. ”People have been wondering, how do you follow up a hit product like the iPhone 4,” and with that, Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S. Like Apple did with the iPhone 3, instead of leapfrogging the popular iPhone 4, they’ve added an S to the name. The “S” stands for speed.

The S Stands for Speed
The new iPhone 4S is powered by the A5 chip (which features 7x faster graphics for games) is twice as fast as the A4 chip in the current iPhone 4. The iPhone 4S features better battery life too, with 8 hours of talk time, or 40 hours of listening to music. The iPhone 4S has an “intelligently switch” wireless system that can swap between its two antennas for “even better call quality.” Data download data is also faster — using HSDPA cellular technology. In short, Apple is selling the iPhone 4S as a 4G-like phone. Note, though, that the iPhone4S is NOT technically a 4G phone.

New Camera
In recent months, Apple has also taken hits about the quality of camera in the iPhone 4. Apple’s Phil Schiller spoke directly to that point: ”Here we’ve really gone overboard,” he said. The iPhone 4S will have more accurate colors, a “five-element lens” with an f/2.4 aperture (which is much better for low-light situations), all delivered by an 8-megapixel camera. That’s 3264 x 2448 resolution, or 60 percent more pixels than the current iPhone 4. The 4S’s sensor is better, too.


Apple provided a little competitive analysis too: Droid Bionic 3.7 seconds to take a picture. iPhone 4S: 1.1 seconds.

“Can You Hear Me Now?” 
Possibly the coolest thing tech writers heard today, though, was the female voice of Siri, the voice control system for the iPhone 4S. While still in beta, the demo of the technology shown was nothing short of amazing. Holding down the Home button activates Siri, and you prompt her simply by using your voice:

“What is the weather like today?” you ask.

Siri pleasantly responds: “Here’s today’s weather,” and then the phone displays the weather forecast.

“Do I need a raincoat today?” you ask.

Siri agrees you might: “It sure looks like rain today.”

“Find me a great Greek restaurant in Palo Alto,” you request.

Siri instantly responds: “I’ve found 14 Greek restaurants…5 in Palo Alto.”

In addition to finding restaurants and scheduling lunch meetings (Yelp is partnered with Apple to provide restaurant reviews in Siri), Siri can read text messages, act as a calculator and is apparently fluent in French and German.

No iPhone 5? iPhone 4S 
Regarding the recent news and rumors, Apple did not release any details on the iPhone 5 or provide any information regarding Sprint’s recent deal to buy iPhones and be an iPhone carrier.  Apple did disappoint on several fronts, but nonetheless, the announcements made today will still make the Apple iPhone the most talked-about smartphone this year. The iPhone 4S will be available in 16Gb for $199, or with 32GB for $299 or 64GB for $399. (This is the first time Apple’s offered 64GB storage for iPhone.) iPhone 4S goes on sale Oct. 14th. Pre-orders begin Oct. 7th.

Update: iPhone 4 now cost $99 for 8 GB; the 8GB iPhone 3GS will be free – all phones require a two-year service contract requirement.

It’s a great time to learn app development for Apple iDevices, like the iPhone 4S. Who knows? If you start now, your app could be ready for the release of the iPhone 5.

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posted by DMA Phill in iPhone News & Tips,News Blog and have No Comments

How 2001: A Space Odyssey Predicted The Future

On August 5, 2011 NASA will launch a new mission. One of several missions now in the works at NASA, the Juno probe will travel to Jupiter. Juno won’t arrive at the solar system’s largest planet until mid-2016. When it does, it will start analyzing a mysterious planet that’s ten times the size of Earth.


A computer-generated image of the Juno probe within Jupiter’s orbit.

The Juno Probe
Juno is a technological marvel. Juno’s sensors will let scientists study Jupiter’s gravitational field – which is so strong that anything that entered its atmosphere four billion years ago, back when the planet was formed, is still trapped there – like an ancient insect preserved forever in a block of amber, Jupiter is a ready-made time capsule waiting to be explored.

Juno’s detectors will also check the planet for signs of water (past or present), in order to assess the possibility that life has existed there. It’s an opportunity for not only NASA scientists but future scientist and engineers who want to learn more about the universe to explore the reaches of the cosmos. The Juno mission may well change our concept of our solar system and will almost certainly change what we know about Jupiter. But Juno’s trip is not the first time we’ve been to Jupiter.

Ahead of His Time
Stanley Kubrick went to Jupiter first. It’s true, although in a fictional sense. In his sprawling space epic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, master director Kubrick took filmgoers on a celestial sleigh ride to the planet. The film not only foretold Juno’s trip, but also managed to foresee inventions like the iPad and many other technological advances – way back in 1968.


Kubrick took audiences to Jupiter 48 years before Juno.

2001: A Space Odyssey sling-shotted viewers from man’s apelike beginnings to a future four million years later, all within the space of one glorious jump cut, which has been called “the longest flash forward in film history.” It also gave us a peek into the future. While the film may have not accurately predicted such advances as civilian space travel, manned lunar bases, and alien contact, the iPad and Juno are perfect examples of how the film impacted our future. Much of what the film predicted has become a reality.

Technology 2001: A Space Odyssey Predicted


Astronauts in the film use tablet computing devices to reconnect with humanity in the dead of space.

Flat-screens From computer monitors to televisions, flat-screens have replaced ancient CRT systems, giving viewers better resolution and more screen space.

Voice Identification Systems/Voice-controlled Computers The Dragon voice recognition system and Apple’s Siri are just a few examples of voice recognition computer systems that allow you to control your computer using your voice. Voice identification systems are used for security.

Video Teleconference & Telecommuting You can meet anyone now on your own terms (and, in most cases, without ever leaving your home).

Tablet Computing The iPad, like the iPhone caused tech manufacturers to re-think what consumers wanted in their electronic devices. Tablet computers offer compact computing solutions.

Game-Playing Computers IBM’s Jeopardy-dominating Watson wasn’t the first computer to show humans how inferior we were.

In-flight Entertainment Throughout 2001: A Space Odyssey, technology demonstrates how it can improve and entertain man.


2001′s still-incredible special effects were overseen by industry wizard Douglas Trumbull, two NASA aerospace engineers and some 35 designers.

In the final analysis, much (if not most) of the technology predicted by 2001 has become fact. It’s interesting to note that Kubrick, whose films are often called “cold” and “inhuman,” was trying to reflect a humanistic and even optimistic world view with 2001. And despite his noted perfectionism, Kubrick was showing at least some flexibility the film; for example, when he learned that his team of designers couldn’t realistically depict the fabled rings of Saturn, Kubrick immediately redirected his mission to Jupiter instead. If only NASA could do that.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Video Production,News Blog and have No Comments