We’re only about two or three months away from the iPad 3 dropping and blowing our socks off. Right now, we can tell you a lot about what the iPad 3 will probably be like. It’ll feature Apple’s new, quad-core A6 CPU. It’ll feature a 2048 x 1536 resolution Retina Display. It may — but probably won’t — be the first iOS device to ship with LTE support.
But what about Siri, Apple’s amazing new voice control technology prominently featured in the iPhone 4S? Surely, that’s a lock for all future Apple devices starting with the iPad 3, right?
Well, hold on. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
While Siri seems like it would be a lock for the iPad 3, it’s important to remember that Siri is an Internet-based service, not just an app. No part of Siri really lives on the iPhone 4S. Rather, Siri is basically an iPhone 4S-specific interface to Apple’s own remote Siri servers, which process your voice in the cloud and then return specific commands for your device to act upon.
In other words, Siri requires the Internet to work… and when there’s no internet, or Siri’s servers are down, it fails quite catastrophically.
That’s a big problem for the idea of Siri coming to the iPad or the iPod touch, because on those devices Apple can’t count on an always-present internet connection the way they can on the iPhone 4S. If someone using a WiFi-only iPad 3 tried to access Siri without being connected to the Internet, the service would just fall over.
Right now, if you have no internet connection on your iPhone, Siri will simply say “Siri Not Available. Connect to the Internet.” That’s all well and good for a device that rarely has a problem slurping up a data connection unless you happen to be under the ocean or in a plane 30,000 feet in the air, but a huge chunk of iPads actually go without internet capability as a matter of course.
So what’s the solution here? Apple favors simple, reliable implementations of technology, and on all base iPad 3 WiFi models, Siri can’t be implemented reliably. On the 3G and LTE models, however, Apple can depend upon internet connectivity ninety-nine times out of a hundred.
Our bet? This is simply a common sense deduction, and we have no inside source saying so, but when the iPad 3 comes out in March or April, Siri will ship only on units that have a 3G connection or better. It’ll be a premium feature for buyers willing to shell out $130 more for the guarantee of an always-on internet connection. Buy a WiFi-only model and you’ll still get a quad-core, A6-controlled iPad 3 with a gorgeous Retina Display, but Siri will be totally MIA… at least until the inevitable jailbreak hacks turn the functionality on again.
What do you think? Will Apple be okay with Siri not working all the time for WiFi users, or will they simply nix the functionality in WiFi-only models? Let us know in the comments.
Update: On Twitter, 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman asked us why Apple would strip Siri functionality from a WiFi iPad 3, when they ship Safari, YouTube, Mail and the App Store on WiFi-only iPads and iPod touches? The distinction is that Siri is a core service, not an app. Siri is an interface baked into the very core of iOS, so much so that it’s launch-able by a long-press of the home button. It is much less acceptable if Siri fails than an app based upon the lack of an Internet connection when it’s a core service; in addition, it’s less obvious to laypeople why Siri requires an internet connection than why e-mail, Google Maps, the App Store or YouTube do.