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Steve Jobs was top of the flops, says Apple's Tim Cook

And Siri, is it true you're getting smarter?

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Amid warm fuzzy words about how popular and loved Apple is, how popular and loved Siri is, and the wonders of the iPad, Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking at the D10 tech conference, dropped a few hints about the future of his Foxconn-rebranding company.

He told Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher that he was "amazed" by what Apple's engineers were working on, and that an IQ boost for Siri would be a big part of that.

The update coming to Siri - the voice-controlled search engine for the iPhone 4S - will be "profound", he said. The fruity tech titan is the subject of a class-action lawsuit from some 4S owners unhappy with its performance, but Cook was accepting no criticisms: "Customers love it, it's one of the most popular features of iPhone 4S which is our most popular phone - the most popular, best-selling phone in the world."

Describing voice recognition as an old technology, Cook said that the innovation to Siri would be from an intelligence boost rather than improved recognition software:

It's not the voice recognition, it's the understanding, it's the AI.

We've got some cool ideas about what Siri can do and we have a lot of people working on this, and I think you'll be really pleased with some of the things you'll see over the coming months.

Asked whether the voice interface was critical to the iPhone, Cook said:

Siri has proven to us that people want to relate to the phone in different way. There wasn't a lot of invention in the input.

In other parts of the interview Cook sidestepped questions as to why the iTunes social network Ping flopped and what the Apple TV will be like if it ever damn well turns up, Cook also gave a moving testament to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs's tendency or "art" of flip-flopping:

He would flip on something so fast that you would forget that he was the one who was taking the 180 polar position the day before.

It was an art. And you would never know that he thought the opposite. I saw it daily. And this is a gift. This is a gift because things do change. It takes courage to change. And courage to say, I'm now wrong.

According to Walter Isaacson's 900-page biography of Steve Jobs, the billionaire biz baron very rarely said he was wrong. However, Tim knows better than we do.

Cook doesn't quite have the reality distortion forcefield that Jobs had, but he speaks well and is more than capable of singing, tunefully, off the Apple song sheet. ®

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