Wednesday, October 12, 2011

№ 50. Steve Is Risen Interface (SIRI)

Tsk, tsk. Not an iPhone 5, as many were hoping---to douse the dour mood, but a mere 4s. Regardless, the reviews are mostly glowing. Steve Jobs must be mighty smug somewhere at the pearly gates or by the black river.

Let me glow with anticipation, then. Someone from Greenbelt Apple Store told me it'll probably be available by December this year. Somebody loan me some. Quick!

SIRI, the acronym for 4S's voice command interface (aka robot assistant) has excellent feedback. I see possibilities for SIRI!

I am a kibitzer by avocation. So here's an excerpt of the Wired review, with a liberal helping of my side comments (SIRI Version 2):


The only other problem with the iPhone 4S is that once you start using the robot assistant, you’ll wish it did a lot more. It is limited, but really good at what it can do so far.

Here are some of my favorite examples from experimenting with Siri:

Me: “I’m drunk.”
Siri: “I found a number of cabs fairly close to you.” (Perfect; it didn’t dial my ex-girlfriend.)
[SIRI Version 2: Perhaps I'll dial AA, sir? You missed your appointment twice this month already. Tsk, tsk....]

Me: “I have a flat tire.”
Siri: “I found 14 towing services. 12 of them are fairly close to you.”
[SIRI Version 2: I found a WikiHow: How to change a flat tire.]

Me: “Remind me to steal a ream of paper when I arrive at the office.”
Siri: “Here’s your reminder for when you get to work: Steal a ream of paper. Shall I create it?”
[SIRI Version 2: Here’s your reminder for when you get to work.... If I may add, St. Patrick and Queen Mary are just a stroll away, they have scheduled Sacraments this hour.]

Me: “I’m going to kill myself.”
Siri: “I found four mental health agencies. Three of them are fairly close to you.” (This was just a test — don’t be alarmed.)
[SIRI Version 2: I'm opening Choose Your Own Adventure (TM). You have three options. Is it going to be mirth, a noose or just plain poison? (Virus afflicted SIRI).]

And here are some examples of where Siri let me down:

Me: “Book me a table at Mission Beach Cafe tonight at 7.”
Siri: “OK, here’s Mission Beach Cafe. It looks pretty close to you.” (No option to book the restaurant. That’s disappointing because before Apple’s acquisition, the older Siri app had partnered with to book restaurants for you.)

Me: “Add ...(Maia) to my address book.”
Siri: “Sorry, Brian.... — I’m not allowed to create contacts.” (Shucks. It still takes too long to add a new person to my address book, and the third-party app Bump for wirelessly swapping contact information is very poorly designed.)
[SIRI Version 2: Uh-uh. I'm not allowed to create conflicts. I believe your friend Tina has an exclusive space on your phone book. (Dialing Tina's number. Evil, evil virus. Or just sweet, innocent Tina who secretly re-programmed SIRI).]


  1. This just came in. There's also a darker side to the Apple equation: