Other than Siri, is there really nothing else to talk about in relation to Apple these days? I've seen a lot of slam commentary towards Apple these past few days and I just don't think it's warranted.
Siri is in beta. Beta. BETA. Say it with me: b-e-t-a. When the product was demoed by Apple several months ago, it had a flawless demo, but it was still far from perfect. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the software has technical glitches and isn't perfect. What beta software is perfect? You can't name me one public beta version of Windows or OS X that was perfect, yet people expect it to be flawless. But Siri isn't a core functionality of iOS. It doesn't make your phone crash or keep you from playing hours of Angry Birds on your iPhone. The backlash against not being able to find this or that... that's what I don't comprehend.
What angers me more is the fact that seemingly intelligent people, like Gizmodo's Mat Honan, claim so far as to call Siri "a lie" and a "broken promise". Apparently Mr. Honan, despite his technical prowess can't understand the concept of beta software, or his publication is still bitter about the whole "investigation into the stolen iPhone 4 prototype" debacle. He states:
For most people who see Apple’s ads, and buy iPhones, the word beta means nothing at all. It might be a fish, or a college bro.
An opportunity existed by Honan and Gizmodo to exercise their editorial duty to educate their readership on what exactly beta software is and what it means, but they've failed yet again in this task. It's important to note that Honan's post was not a review or a critique, but it was written as an editorial. Any time you read an editorial, motivations should be called into question, seeing as that they're mostly based on opinions with some fact, rather than facts with some opinions. Anything less is just spreading FUD - fear, uncertainty and doubt.
While Mr. Honan is fully entitled to his opinion, he obviously fails to realize that social software like Siri, cannot be fully battle tested in a laboratory in Cupertino. Rather, concepts and testing like this are best honed when released into the wild at a controlled pace, to see where refinements can be made. If you want to be on the bleeding edge of technology, this is the price you pay and seemingly so considering Apple is primarily a hardware company.
While John Gruber has acknowledged the flaws with Siri, his comments on Daring Fireball have been a little more subtle. As he puts it:
I think the iPhone 4S is better off with Siri in its current state than it would be if Apple had waited until Siri was further along to release it. And I think part of why they released it as a beta is that it’ll be easier to improve voice recognition while it’s being widely used.
Gruber, expressing himself in a bit more level-headed fashion, seems to acknowledge that while the feature isn't perfect, it can improve over time with feedback and public testing - which is exactly my point. Do you think that Apple would have arrived at iOS 5 for it's devices without releasing incremental upgrades based on feedback and candid comments? I highly doubt it.
We rely on technology reporters to evangelize progress in the industry and to educate the public on pressing matters. It's hard to expect better when people are trained to rely on the media to give a fair and accurate accounting of events. If some in the current generation can no longer do that, it's time to let open minds into the tech journalism ecosystem to do what they so obviously can't. Anything less is a disservice to your industry and your profession.
And it's just plain wrong.