Friday, August 17, 2012

Is Siri Really a Personal Assistant?

We've all seen the commercials and become familiar with the robotic, yet friendly voice of "Siri" on the latest version of the iPhone 4S.  Like many Apple products, this has been something of a breakthrough in this field of technology: A mobile phone that can actually talk back.  The commercials show some great advantages of what Siri can help with.  She can provide a weather forecast, check your calendar, find a location, and more.  These are all indeed accurate depictions of what Siri can do, but in reality It is not so effortless as their commercials suggest. 
What the commercials do not show is Siri Saying "I don't know what you mean by _______" or "How about a Web Search for _______?"  This is what happens most often when I have found myself using Siri.  In these situations, I find myself wondering why I wasted the time over enunciating my words to this little toy and didn't just Google it.  After a little research, I can see that I'm not alone.  In a recent article for Fast Company, Anjali Mullany expresses her frustration with the well-intentioned iPhone feature and provides several tweets from others expressing a similar frustration. 
As Mullany points out, these miscommunications with Siri are only funny when you aren't in a hurry.  However, when you take a look at some of her examples, it can be as entertaining as   This is not to mention all the times that I accidentally turn Siri on without meaning to.
I must say in respect to Apple, that Siri has been a fun addition to the iPhone, and for the first of it's kind, it is pretty remarkable.  But I am compelled to mention that as a personal assistant, this device does indeed fall short.  Siri has very defined parameters in order to function properly, and when you really get down to it the list of the things Siri can do is rather short.  It integrates beautifully for the standard apps that the iPhone comes loaded with already: like your calendar, contact list, weather app, etc; but most of us have a much larger amount of Apps that we run on a daily basis that are not integrated with Siri. 

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