Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sirius-ly True

For months Apple has been running commercials on network television showcasing the coolest feature of the iPhone 4s , the electronic assistant Siri.

There are many different little vignettes. In one, a woman asks, "What does my day look like," and Siri responds "Not bad. only two meetings today." Can I walk to the Belvedere Hotel from here? Siri displays a map and says, "Here are directions to the Belvedere Hotel." Walking briskly, a man says read me that text and Siri promptly tells who its from and reads the message. A little boy peers through a window and asks if it is going to snow today. Siri responds by saying, "It sure looks like snow today."

A female jogger says, "Remind me to call Chris when I get home." A busy executive says, "Move my meeting from three to four." Several more people make requests ending with a woman who says, "I'm locked out." Siri replies, "I found three locksmiths fairly close to you."

A man asks for directions to Santa Cruz, and a woman says, "Where are we?" In each case Siri responds with directions and a map showing the route and current location. What does Orion look like? Siri says I found this for you and displays an illustration of the constellation.

"Tell Julie and Kate our band is playing at the garage tonight." says the teen. Help me find the chords to a song. Call me a rock god, he says and Siri replie, "From now on I will call you a rock god, okay?"

I watched these various commercials over and over, and then it struck me. Did Siri really respond exactly the way the commercials portrayed?  While I have successfully instructed Siri to add reminders to my calendar and to text "my wife," I wondered if they were perhaps taking some liberties and making Siri appear a little smarter, more cute and friendlier than she really was? We know there is supposed to be truth in advertising but then we also know a certain amount of puffery is generally acceptable.

Not everyone has an iPhone 4s. Who would ever know? Fortunately, I do and so I decided to mirror the commercials exactly and compare the results I got to the results they showed. It took a few attempts but I managed to replicate just about every one. I listened and repeated the exact phrase and I am happy to report in every case Siri did, in fact, deliver the same result to me as it did to the person in the commercial.

On balance I have found Siri to be very useful and have had few problems as long as I have a good network connection. The early traffic issues seem to have cleared up.

Oh, and don't worry. Siri doesn't still call me "rock god." I changed that back to "sweetie pie."

Captain Joe

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