It looks like the mystery is over. After the unveiling of the iPhone 4S and Siri, owners of the iPhone 4 were pretty vocal about the fact that they couldn't have the new feature. There were all sorts of reasons given, but all of them were seemingly ignored when word (and video) broke out showcasing Siri working pretty well on an iPhone 4. Sure, you can put Siri on your iPhone 4 right now, but you need to be technologically advanced and ready to dig deep into your iPhone 4's software. It isn't an easy task at all, and most iPhone 4 owners probably won't make the effort.
But a report from CNET yesterday seems to have put an end to the debate, more or less. As it turns out, it does come down to processor hardware and features. According to the report, Apple utilized technology provided by a company called Audience, which was limited back in 2010 when the iPhone 4 launched. However, Audience's second-generation technology was released in 2011 and the iPhone 4S took advantage of it, making Siri a possibility. It comes down to noise-reduction technology, which Apple had built right into the dual-core A5 processor, and Audience's "far-field speech" technology.
This latter bit is apparently the brunt of the issue between Siri and the iPhone 4. This "far-field speech" technology makes it possible to use Siri from a distance, coupled with the noise-reduction technology. So, while there are plenty of technical reasons thrown in there, it reads like it comes down to this: you can use the iPhone 4S at arm's length, and you can't do that with the iPhone 4, so Siri is only fully capable of running on the iPhone 4S.
I've seen commercials with Siri on board the iPhone 4S, showcasing the new feature in all of its glory. But, you know what I don't see? People using their iPhone 4S at arm's length, speaking (or yelling) at their phone trying to get results from Siri. Nope, I see people holding their phone right up to their face, speaking normally. So, from what I've read and seen (and used), there really is no reason why the iPhone 4 can't run Siri.
Like I said above, there are people who have loaded an iPhone 4 with Siri. And if you've used Siri before, then you have probably used it right up close and personal, and probably never at arm's length away. It's great that Apple used the latest and greatest technology within their A5 processor to make sure that the iPhone 4S had the best graphics and top-notch noise-reduction capabilities, but it seems strange to me that Apple would bar the iPhone 4 from the voice-activated assistant feature just because you can't hold the phone further away from your mouth.
When the iPhone 4S was first unveiled, and Siri along with it, and word came down that the iPhone 4 would be missing out on this prodigal feature, my initial thought came down to sales. Apple wanted to sell the iPhone 4S, and considering the marginal update compared to the iPhone 4, they needed something to make it standout. The A5 dual-core processor was apparently not enough, so Siri was the top application to promote and make exclusive. People were obviously going to get upset, but they needed to move units, and Siri made that possible thanks to its exclusive nature on a new device.
And I think that's still the majority of the case. And that's why I'm thinking that this year, when Apple unveils the next iPhone, they perhaps bring Siri out of its Beta position and release it as a download within the App Store. Make it available as a public download for everyone with an iPhone 4. Even if that means you charge $9.99 to get it, at least make it an option. Because we know that an iPhone 4 can run Siri. And, based on your commercials Apple, we know that you don't want people holding their phone as far away from their face as possible to "talk" to Siri.