2012.03.12The iPhone 4S, Siri, and iOS 5.1

Despite telling people I wasn't really all that plussed by the iPhone 4S, I have a white one sitting on my desk in front of me now. How I got it was the result of a Jedi mind-trick my wife used on me.

Okay. Now that that's out of the way...

OMG OMG OMG OMG it's really cool!!!! The 4S is a steroid powered iPhone 4. Everything's more powerful. Even the display is brighter. And Siri is actually quite useful. Having never used it before, I told the application, "Tell [my wife (but I only used her first name)] that she's awesome." The app pulled out the correct person from my contacts and prepared the text. It asked for my approval, and sent it. Siri seems very promising indeed.

Okay. Now that I've said that, one must take care when using Siri to send texts. In the example I gave above, the first draft read, "She's awesome." Lest I give my bride the impression I was giving a compliment to a third party, I edited the content to read, "You're awesome." So, Pro tip: Even though you're using the third person to get the app to contact someone, make sure your message itself is spoken as if you're talking to the addressee.

With the iOS 5.1 upgrade, they made a few really nice feature changes. For instance, you can now access the camera directly from the lock screen -- no more having to fumble through unlocking the phone to get to the camera app and missing the moment.

Unfortunately, the iOS upgrade did present a slight wrinkle. My iPhone 4 upgraded to 5.1 the other night -- that's when I did a full backup of the unit in preparation for the eventual arrival of the 4S. The 4S showed up at my house yesterday. (What? It was supposed to go to the store, wasn't it?) Its version of iOS was still 5.0.1 -- which makes sense, considering 5.1 only came out the other day. So I couldn't load the data from the 4 onto the 4S directly -- I had to upgrade to 5.1 first.

You know, 800MB of data just never seems to download fast enough. It took about an hour and a half to do it all last night, but in the end I had a flawless upgrade.

By the way, Radio Shack will give you $190 for your old 32GB iPhone 4 -- cutting the cost of the 32GB 4S down to roughly $100. A couple of tips here:
  1. Be prepared to spend some time in Radio Shack to get it all handled -- the store manager told Laurel the reason it took so long the other day was because the clerk who handled our transaction is dying. Yes. He really said that.
  2. Upgrade your desktop iTunes to the latest version.
  3. Make sure your phone is synced up. And by "synced up", I mean make sure your desktop iTunes is an accurate reflection of what you have on your phone. I disconnected everything on my 4 from the desktop a while ago, so I had to hook it all back up -- transfer all the purchases from the unit back to the desktop, then reselect the playlists, the ringtones, blah blah blah.
  4. Do a full backup of your 4 to your PC before you go to the store. NOT KIDDING.
  5. If you're thinking about doing this upgrade right now, either don't upgrade to iOS 5.1 yet OR wait a little while until units with 5.1 enter stores' stock. Otherwise you'll have to set up the 4S as a new phone, download and install 5.1 on the new phone, THEN go back and restore the 4 data to the 4S. Kind of a PITA.
  6. Don't think you'll actually leave the store having paid $100. They want to sell you the new AppleCare plan before you leave -- this will double your cost, but it may be worth it: the plan is changed so that it now covers any accidental damage to your phone from the moment the plan is activated (which is why they push to sell it to you right then). The old AppleCare was far stricter, and didn't cover everyday oopses. Considering I put a minor crack in my 4 when it slid off my leg the other day, the plan is worth investigating.
  7. Speaking of insurance, ZAGG is now offering a lifetime replacement warranty on their screen protectors, if you're so inclined.
  8. That full backup you did before you went to the store? It won't restore your passwords. Those you'll have to re-key.
All-in-all, the upgrades -- both the iOS upgrade and the new unit -- went pretty well. If you follow the tips, you should come out smelling like a rose.

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