December 23, 2011
“Play, Arcade Fire” - me
“Playing, Arcade Fire.” - Siri
That brief interaction between me and the latest development from Apple ushered in my first experience with what is quickly being accepted as the next great technological leap for smartphone technology.
And for someone who upgraded from a “slow chugging” iPhone 3G to the new iPhone 4S, the personal assistant Siri is a bonus to an already impressive device. I know the iPhone 4 already had some voice-activated software, but it isn’t close to this level. The ability to interact with your contact list, your applications, and communication services by voice alone has put Apple ahead of many of its competitors.
Siri allows you to do the following without having to press more than one button:
- Make a call
- Create, edit and send a text
- Schedule an appointment in your calendar
- Remind you of said appointment
- Get directions
- Play music from your iTunes library
- Play videos from your iTunes library
- Organize your contact list
- Obtain information
- Do your laundry
- Clean your car
Okay the last two aren’t true, but the other items are just the tip of the ice berg. Siri works with its user to better define commands. So when I asked Siri “Call Mom Cell”, Siri responded with “Is this your Mother?” By replying yes, I can now simply say “Call Mom” or “Call Mother”. There is a nice element of the technology understanding the user better to provide an overall improved experience.
The drawback you have with any voice activated device is the fact that you have to make these vocal commands in public. It’s one thing to ask Siri to play a song or make a call in the comfort of your car or home, but it’s another thing to do so at your work desk, on a subway, or at the grocery store (etiquette is always secondary when the public begins utilizing a new technology.) Though I will say, after a few exchanges with Siri, I found myself making commands like a robot. So it has curbed my potential for being “that Siri guy” in the checkout lane.
There has been criticism that Siri is not necessary and that its application is limited. And there is some truth to that. Some of you reading this post, maybe thinking, “So what if you can play your music by vocal command?” The bigger picture being laid out here is the potential. Larger technology companies have started to release software that pulls our program commands away from a keyboard. Microsoft’s Kinect is expanding beyond the gaming world and into TV, so soon you’ll be able to utilize your voice and free motion to change your channel without having to pick up a remote.
There is already talk of Siri’s future versions as Google and other companies begin to enter into the marketplace, so we should start to see voice recognition software expand greatly over the next couple of years.
This is now starting to feel like the “future.” Growing up in the 1980s it seemed like the future was going to be jet packs and robots. For now I suppose I’ll settle on this voice recognition software on my smartphone. So if someone could get started on those jet packs that would be great…
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