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Siri

Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Dave!And so Apple has (finally) unleashed the latest version of there iPhone-iPodTouch-iPad operating system. Unlike the Mac OS X updates which get cool names like "Mountain Lion," iOS updates get a boring number increment, which means we're at "iOS 6" now.

I had no problem updating my iPad 3, iPhone 4, & iPhone 4S and, so far as I know, everything is working perfectly. I'll get to my thoughts on the bulk of the iOS 6 new features tomorrow. But tonight I want to focus on Apple's controversial virtual assistant software named "Siri."

Siri is considered "controversial" because "she" is a feature that sparks a lot of strong feelings amongst iPhone users. Some people I know love her. Some people I know hate her. Most people I know ignore her and rarely (if ever) use Siri. Personally, I love love love Siri and use her constantly. For the most part, she understands me and interprets my instructions correctly. And there's just something magical about being able to say "I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow at 3pm" only to have Siri add it to your calendar without you having to type a thing. Welcome to the future!

Kinda.

Because, unlike the computer on Star Trek, Siri can be one fickle bitch. One minute she will understand something odd that you never thought she would get... the next minute she'll completely blow a simple instruction for reasons you can't fathom. Fortunately, Apple is improving Siri all the time, so she's getting smarter and more capable with each new release, but life with Siri is far from perfect.

One of the new thing Siri understands with iOS 6 is movies. I had thought this would be limited to displaying showtimes at local theaters, but she's much smarter than that. Want to know what the last movie Gene Hackman appeared in? No need for IMDB, Siri has got you covered...

Siri Movies

Interesting that Siri knows to capitalize "Hackman" but not "Gene"... even though she spelled "Gene" correctly. But she still knows how to answer, which is pretty darn cool. Unfortunately, she's less smart for other queries. For example, Siri will still ask you "Which one?" when asking about a movie title that's been used for multiple movies, even if you specify the one you want...

Siri on Avatar

With the new iOS 6 update, Siri also knows sports. As I type this, the Mariners are playing a game. When I ask how they are doing, Siri responds with a score and some stats...

Siri Mariners

Nice! One of the things Siri also knows about is players. At the Apple Event where iOS 6 was introduced, they showed how you could find out "Who is taller, Kobe or LeBron?" just by asking. This seemed very cool... until I found out that the number of players Siri knows is severely limited. If I want to check up on how Jarrod Saltalamacchia is doing, Siri goes brain dead. She doesn't know who Salty is no matter how I pronounce his name... or even if I ask for him by number. And she doesn't seem to know what "stats" are, even if you say a player she recognizes. This seems crazy given that she will bring up a player stats card when you ask somebody's height, but oh well...

Siri Saltalamacchia

Siri does have Saltalamacchia listed as a player, so I guess there's that...

Siri red Sox Catcher

Siri is supposed to have a handle on international sports, so I thought I'd try a name that wasn't as complicated as "Saltalamacchia." Like Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard...

Siri Lampard

Lampard is a hugely famous player. He's been with Chelsea for ten years now. How can Siri not know who he is? I dunno... maybe if I were in the UK this would be different, but overall I find player stats to be a hugely underwhelming feature (unless you're wanting to know about Kobe Bryant or LeBron James!). Maybe I'm asking wrong or something. But I tried dozens of questions about Frank Lampard covering everything from his height to goals and still nothing.

One area I was hoping Siri would get smarter about is travel, because she doesn't seem to know a damn thing. Train schedules, bus routes, flight times, or whatever... Siri is clueless. And nothing has changed in iOS 6. This would seem to be a no-brainer. I would love to get to the train station and ask "When does the next train arrive?", but I guess that's too complex for Siri to figure out. And she knows it...

Siri Doesn't Know Flights

When it comes to alarms, Siri can still be inexplicably stupid. She can't even recognize alarms she just made for you...

Siri Alarms

You can't set, change, or find an alarm for a specific day? Why the fuck not? These are the very basic things a virtual assistant should know how to do. And you set the alarm just fine, so why is deleting the alarm with the same language I used to set it a problem? It's things like this that make me understand why some people are not Siri fans.

One of my favorite things I use Siri for on my iPhone is setting reminders. They are frickin' genius because they are location-based. Tell Siri to remind you to make a call when you get to work, and she will do exactly that. So now that Siri is available on third-generation iPads, I was excited that I could add reminders from there too. Except... turns out you can't...

Siri Reminders

Can't create location-based reminders on this device? WHY THE FUCK NOT?!? You DO realize that any reminders I make on my iPad will be synced to my iPhone, right? I mean, I know that my WiFi iPad doesn't have a GPS, but I'm not expecting it to remind me of a damn thing... that's what my iPHONE is for! Siri should just create the damn reminder and warn you that it will only work for iPhone or something... not flat-out refuse to do something that makes total sense.

With iOS 6, Siri now knows about dining. You can ask her about restaurants in your area or types of foods or whatever, and she'll link with Yelp! to help you out. This is a very nice feature for travelers like me who end up in cities they're unfamiliar with. It can also be a very depressing feature when you're hungry for falafel and the nearest place to get it is over 70 miles away...

Siri on Restaurants

Added coolness points to Siri for being able to link up with OpenTable so you can make reservations in the restaurant you find.

Another new feature is being able to post to Twitter and Facebook as easily as you can send texts and emails. Siri will even warn you if you need to set this up before she can take action...

Siri Does Facebook

As always, Siri dumps anything she doesn't understand into a catch-all "Wanna look that up in a web search?"...

Siri How Stupid is Mitt Romney

Not that I was expecting Siri to get into a deep discussion over how Mitt Romney has been so terminally fucking stupid every time he opens his mouth lately... or how utterly fucking tragic it is that politicians are screwing the men and women who risk their lives to defend this country... I just wanted to show how Siri does a bang-up job of figuring out what I'm saying, even if she doesn't know what to do with it.

And so there she is... the new and improved Siri virtual assistant.

Slowly getting smarter, but still in desperate need of an intelligence upgrade.

Which pretty much describes every person on this planet, so it's hard for me to fault Siri. Most of the time I still love her more than buttered toast.

To be continued...

Tags: , ,
Categories: Apple Stuff 2012, iPhone + iPadClick To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. i love my droid, but it is several years old and i am ready for a new phone. the temptation to step into the iphone crowd is there, but i know and am comfortable with the htc evo. honestly, i think the damn iphone is too smart for me to even know what to do with. seriously considering…

  2. the muskrat says:

    I’m one of those people who hardly uses her, because she hardly ever “gets it right.” Hope that changes with the new OS!

  3. Megan says:

    I love how she uses your name sometimes. I can’t do that, David. I always read that with a snarky tone. Is Siri snarky?

  4. I’m in the ignoring her camp. The times that I did use her, she either failed to understand me and did nothing or failed to understand me and gave me the wrong information. It’s not my fault I’m British ;-)

    I dunno maybe I’ll give her a try again and see if she’s learned to understand accents a little better.

  5. She makes me crazy when I ask for something and she says “would you like me to search the web for you?” Yes, of course I want search the web every time I ask you for something!!!!! You just got on the web to recognize my voice, now do a search for me!!!!

    WIth the alarms, Siri doesn’t do days. I’m 99% sure if you’d said “cancel my 7:30 am alarm” and not said “tomorrow” she’d have been fine. You can’t say set an alarm for a certain day, I think she just assumes the next occurrence.

    I’ve got the iPad 3 with the GPS and it won’t let me do location based reminders either. Not sure what’s up with that. Regardless, if you leave a certain WiFi zone, it could just remind you then!

    And Gene Hackman is awesome. Maybe it’s time to go watch Superman I…

  6. martymankins says:

    After this post, it makes me want to play around with the new Siri features of iOS 6. The sports scores are nice, although I’m still attached to the NFL ’12 app.

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