FYI Corner: Welcome to the Family 4S

By Jen Carter, Station Products & Innovation

Apple pushed out its latest device recently with the release of the iPhone 4S. The 4S includes upgraded features like a dual-core A5 chip, 8-megapixel camera and optics, the iOS 5 (operating system) and iCloud, and Twitter integration (so you won’t miss a tweet from @SPI_PBS). A full list of features can be found here, and reviews of the 4S can be found everywhere, but specifically here.

The newest and perhaps most interesting feature available on the 4S is Siri. It’s a voice active search (VAS) function that allows the user to verbally search and perform functions they would otherwise have to be done by those pesky finger things that grow at the end of palms.

Very simply put a "search" is spoken by the user, and then processed by Siri. The user selects from the results or manually keeps digging. The results appear on the device via the mobile version of the site. This works similar to Google Voice that can be found on Android devices. The idea is that eventually VAS will get “smarter” and provide more tailored results based on what the user's search and select behaviors.

Siri is a major new feature for iPhone users, but while this melodic feature is still being classified as Beta, it appears VAS is primed to become the new hot bed of mobile OS competition. So, what affect could VAS have on stations? Simply put, mobile sites are becoming more important.

Since voice searching is primarily done on mobile devices, the increased attention to VAS could mean more mobile traffic to station sites. If for instance a user asks “what is on station WXYZ tonight at 8?” on a mobile phone, they will visit the station's site on the mobile device. If station WXYZ doesn’t have a version of their site formatted properly for mobile, it could result in a poor user-experience and frustrated potential viewers leaving that site. This is something stations may want to seriously consider since the VAS trend is growing in popularity with each new smartphone release and may eventually become standard in all devices.

For stations already knee deep in the mobile platform, what features can be used to drive traffic to station web and social media sites?

For those stations not yet on mobile, are there ways you want to leverage the space?

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