Last week, when Apple announced its iPhone 4S, many had been expecting fireworks in the hardware department. Tear-drop shaped chassis, larger screens and all kinds of weird and wonderful rumors had been swirling for months, and by the time we’d finished, anything could have happened when Tim Cook took to the stage.
What didn’t happen, was any kind of hardware change whatsoever, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get something to talk about. Or rather, talk to…
Siri, Apple’s fancy new digital assistant, is an interesting beast. The aim of the game is simple – offer users a way to give their iPhone instructions, and have it take action on those instructions. Talking to our phones is nothing new, dumb-phones have been doing it for years, though admittedly not on the level of Siri.
But what exactly is that level? Well, Apple’s team has taken when the Siri team had been working on before their buyout by the Cupertino firm, and taken it to its logical conclusion by building it right into the iPhone’s operating system. What that means, is the power of Siri means you can interact with most of the iPhone’s built-in systems. Talk to it, ask it to do something, and then have Siri react to that instruction. It’s a sight to behold when it works, as our two videos show you.
However, when Siri doesn’t work, it can be pretty spectacular, again, as our video shows.
Those outside the Unites States are also coming to terms with some of Siri’s limitations on the integration front. For example, Siri cannot use Yelp or Maps outside the United States, meaning those of us in other parts of the world can’t ask Siri to do some of the fancy ‘find me x’ features Apple so smugly showed off in some of its promotional videos.
There are other limitations as well, mainly due to the fact that most of us outside the United States speak in all kinds of weird and wonderful accents. What that leads to, is Siri understanding people in one part of the UK, for example, but having absolutely no clue what those in another part are trying to say. Its the age-old problem that any voice-recognition or dictation software has suffered from, though Apple has admittedly made a better job of it than most.
Siri will learn too, according to Apple, so all is not lost in the long term!
iPhone 4S Siri Demo (Noisy Environment)
iPhone 4S Siri Demo (Quiet Environment)