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BW Businessworld

High End Aspiration

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The iPhone 4S is here, launching barely over a month after its US launch, at a staggering price of Rs 44,500 for the base 16GB model, going up all the way to Rs 57,500 for the 64GB variant. You still with me? Good. Now that we've got that out of the way (honestly, that price never really goes away, does it?), let's see what this year's update to the iPhone has brought.

In many ways, the 4S raised more many eyebrows about what it wasn't rather than what it was. If you expected a redesigned, larger screen iPhone 5, all you got was an iPhone 4 with seriously overhauled innards, but no external changes really, save for a redesigned antenna — the same external casing, screen. It isn't an issue — the iPhone remains one of the best looking phones out there, but try asking the folks who like to show their friends that they've got the latest device from Apple how much this irks them!

Inside's a different story, with the CPU the same dual-core A5 processor we've seen in the iPad2, and a claimed 7x increase in graphical processing power. The net result is that everything runs more snappily when compared to the iPhone 4, which translates into the 4S arguably remaining still the best hardware-UI combination in the market. And the camera, an 8MP version with an improved aperture ratio turns out the best images from a smartphone this side of the Nokia N8. You have to try this camera to realise how little time your compact camera has…

Of course, what I was personally more interested in figuring out was how well Siri, the new intelligent assistant that brings true speech recognition to the iPhone, worked. Specifically how well it worked with a bunch of Indian accents and names, a far cry from Siri's American beginnings. Start conversing with Siri, and you realise this is really a peak into the future, with Siri's ability to understand natural language statements like "Do I need an umbrella today?" or "Wake me up in 7 hours" to look up the relevant weather data or set an alarm/appointment/reminder. It is immensely useful for quickly looking up things like "what is the population of New Delhi" as well, and it doesn't miss a beat picking up such words/phrases. The trouble starts when you pick a halfway complex Indian name on your address book, maybe to send a message or to locate an email. Siri trips up on most names, and how! That and its inability to look up local businesses/addresses or integrate with maps means that one of its biggest use cases for me – using it while driving – takes a solid usability hit.


That said, for a software which Apple clearly states is in beta, it worked pretty well out of the box, but are the pumped up internals and Siri enough to justify the asking price in India? You could try asking Siri this, but I suspect she may be a tad biased!

Rating: 7/10
Price: Rs 44,500 onwards on Airtel (review device courtesy Airtel) and Aircel

Apps For X-Mas
If some of you are lucky enough to find an Apple or Android phone in your Christmas stockings, here are some apps that will make your Christmas experience complete. Android users can look at Christmas Ringtones and Christmas Tree Live Wallpaper to spruce up their phones with the yuletide spirit. iPhone users can head over to the App Store and see the special Christmas section which includes gems such as Christmas Songs, music and carols, an app that plays back over 50 holiday classics, or the Create Greeting Cards app for sending greetings to near and dear ones. What's more, look out for great deals on a wide range of apps – some going for free while others deeply discounted. It is the season of giving, after all…

Smooth Operation
Portable apps aren't exactly new, but Kingston's urDrive range of flash drives package a bundle of software that lets users install and run programs off of the USB drive so they can use, for example, their own photo viewer and MP3 player on any PC without leaving a footprint behind. Particularly useful for folks who have to use public computers or for those who can't install their own software in their work PCs. Best of all, the built-in browser has anti-key logging software and stores all cookies and passwords on the drive, which makes public use that much more secure.


technocool at kanwar dot net
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