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.)