For some reason there has been a lot of negativity thrown in Siri‘s direction over the past few months. The digital assistant that was once referred to as a “major revolution in voice recognition technology” is now being written off as a mere novelty.

In fact, our very own Oliver Haslam wrote an interesting piece yesterday regarding the topic. He’s obviously in favor of the latter sentiment, saying things like, “other than setting a timer once in a while — for the sheer novelty of it — Siri just does not get any use from me.”

The post garnered quite a bit of responses from folks that were either for or against Oliver’s argument. Today I figured I would share my 3-month impression.

I should note that I don’t have any kind of distinctive accent, as Oliver does. So right away I have a bit of an advantage over him in using Siri. I’m sure my total amount of failed recognitions is far lower than his.

But other than that, I think it’s an even playing field, and I have to admit, I’ve found dozens of uses for Siri.

The biggest component of Siri I’ve found myself using is the Dictation feature. I use it to write both text messages and emails, and I find it to be extremely accurate. This is especially helpful when my hands are busy, greasy, or wet and I want to respond to a message quickly. But honestly, it works so well, I find myself using it even when my hands are free.

I also use Siri’s shortcuts quite often. If I need to wake up at a time in the morning that isn’t already pre-programmed into my alarm clock, I have Siri set it for me. Saying, “wake me up at 9:30 am tomorrow morning” is much quicker than setting the alarm manually. And the same goes for reminders. I have Siri remind me to take out the trash, pick up my dry cleaning, or even remind me about topics I want to write about here on iDB. I even use it to build a grocery list throughout the week. My girlfriend will say something like, “Uh oh, looks like we are running low on milk,” and I’ll say, “Add milk to the grocery list.” Siri says “OK, I can add this to your ‘Grocery List’ list in Reminders.” Awesome.

And finally, I use Siri to locate local businesses and restaurants. Once again, I’ve found that telling the assistant that “I feel like pizza” is much more efficient than searching for a pizza place manually. And if I’m in an unfamiliar area, I can simply tap on one of the returned results and Siri will open up the Maps application to get directions (Although Siri won’t read the directions out loud — one of the few things I miss about carrying an Android handset for work).

As you can see, I find Siri to be much more than just a novelty. It’s changed the way I search for businesses, search the web, and has completely eliminated my need for sticky notes. That being said, I have to admit that I agree with Oliver in that I’m not quite sure how I would use Siri on my iPad — if that rumor ever materializes. I think Apple would have to give the assistant much more control over iOS for me to find it useful on a tablet.

But make no mistake, Siri for the iPhone is quite remarkable. It’s far more accurate and capable than any other voice recognition feature I’ve ever encountered. And I should know. I’ve just used it to compose this entire article. (Full disclosure: I used Siri paired with the Splashtop VNC app to write the rough draft. I edited it on my MacBook.)

  • Eric Morgan

    Agree 100%. I’m clueless why people aren’t using this for everything you are. It’s a paradigm shift in UI. and it’s going to get better.

    • Anonymous

      Not everybody wants to that’s why, jeeeeez this is getting old now.

    • Daniel

      Siri in Canada is useless. No location services capability. Basically all it’s good for is dictation.

      • Dan

        really? that blows

      • Anonymous

        Siri *anywhere* outside of the US has the same result.

        That’s racist! ;P

  • Kok Hean

    Actually, accents don’t matter. Pronunciations are far more important.

  • Agreed I love Siri and use it all the time.

  • Really? I would say accent and pronunciations go hand in hand….

  • Dan

    I believe adding Siri to the iPad would be a great feature. I would definately use it for dictation and alarms. With iCloud feature, it would sync with my phone etc. Furthermore, once the device is jailbroken, people will obviously come up with more uses for Siri.

  • Well what is annoying is that if you live outside the US you can’t look for businesses nearby. This needs to be added for all countries fast. But Siri understands me just fine with a UK accent on English US. PS I just typed all that with Siri dictation!

  • I love using Siri fOr the same reasons. It’s a huge time saver for me

  • Amazing article 🙂

  • personally, i think siri was a waste of apples time. I never use it, and i think the majority of iPhone users don’t use it either.
    thats just my opinion.

  • personally, i think siri was a waste of apples time. I never use it, and i think the majority of iPhone users don’t use it either.
    thats just my opinion.

  • Prathik Nair

    So what you guys are saying is, you wasted money just to get a better camera and siri. Just so you could complain about how much it sucks.

    If thats the case i am either waiting for the iphone 5….or Galaxy S II Here i Come!

    • We also spent out money on 1080p Video Recording, The Amazing A5 Chip, 3G speeds that match that of 4G, Better sound quality, iOS 5 with iMessage, iCloud and more! And for the people who have had an old gen iPod Touch the Retina Display, The sexist design on the market, Siri Dictation and a hole mother load more!

  • Anonymous

    Buying an iPhone 4S outside of the US or UK is basically the worst decision you can make. Siri is practically useless in other countries, and Apple should’ve known better.

    I always knew all that hype wouldn’t last long. Glad I kept my single-core iPhone 4 with a 5MP camera and Voice Control (though it’s a known fact that no one ever uses that) 😀

    • Totally agree…! As much as I personally enjoy using Siri, it’s not even half as useful here in Germany as it is in the US, due to the lack of features…! 🙁

      No locations, no businesses or services, no maps integration, no Wolfram Alpha support — outside the US it is basically just an improved version of the Voice Control feature…

      Which is also the main reason for so many people losing interest in using it and even if the feature set catches up some day it might be hard for Apple to convince people to try again…

      • Totally agree! If we don’t see that Apple do care about people other than their fellow Americans in iOS 5.1 then they will be getting a very long and angry letter from a very disappointed customer…

  • Anonymous

    Lucky you, Siri only works at the states, so here at Australia we only have it as a novelty e.g. Do I need an umbrella. Annoyingly, sometimes Siri mixes my music, I can never listen to Linkin Park through siri, as it thinks it is Licoln Park

    • Simon Reidy

      The annoying thing is Siri works near flawlessly with the Aussie accent, so it’s still very useful for dictation, but as far as location services go, until Apple see fit to recognise that the US is not the only country in the world that matters, it’s going to be slow going waiting for them to roll out location aware Siri features worldwide.

      To be honest I think the 4S should be sold cheaper in countries other than the US until this is rectified. Apple are selling a crippled product after all, with no mention of the fact at time of purchase. Extremely misleading on their behalf, but I guess it is Apple we are talking about.

  • Nice job – nice report – now this was verbally dictated by Siri !!!