Long before today’s announcement that the Siri Voice Assistant would be an integral part of iOS, Siri was a third-party app. It wasn’t as pretty, and not nearly as well integrated, but it had one big advantage: it ran on just about any iOS device.
Then Apple bought Siri. It immediately became clear that Apple was making a push into voice — and yet, the app stayed on the store. It lived on un-updated, but it lived on nevertheless. Then Apple introduced Siri… exclusively for the iPhone 4S.
And with that, the life of Siri (the application) came to an end, making way for Siri (the feature).
For something that most would never notice, the pull down was masterfully choreographed: when Siri was first mentioned on stage, the application was still easily available. By the time the demonstration was over, the app was no where to be found — and unfortunately for the folks who might have already nabbed Siri in the past year or so (or worse yet, those who have come to consider Siri a part of their everyday lives), it appears as if the servers that Siri (the app) relies on were shut down at the same time.
Update: After a brief downtime, the servers came back up.. with a message of their impending demise: “I’ve been replaced! The new Siri is even smarter and better looking than me, and waiting for you on the iPhone 4S. I’ll be leaving for home Oct 15th. Until then…how can I help you?”
So, why take it down? Two reasons come to mind. For one, it’s pretty tough to up-sell current iPhone 4 owners to the iPhone 4S if one of the biggest features is already available (albeit to a limited extent) as a third-party app. Less nefariously, having a third-party app (especially one that hadn’t been updated in around a year) available with the same name as a feature would be beyond confusing. If it were solely about avoiding confusion, though, why pull down the server for those who already have the app?