Siri First Impressions: It’s Magical

apple-siri

Not my hand

I remember the first time I started using my iPod Touch two years ago. It soon became this magical device that let me surf the Web, check my email, and listen to Michael Jackson wherever I was. But the thing that won me over was the App Store. “Inside,” I spent hours scrolling through the categories of apps, first discovering a game called The Urinal Test, which tested my mettle when deciding which stall to urinate in at a restroom. It was fun, addicting, and I loved it.

Years later, Apple announces Siri alongside their newest iPhone iteration. At that time, disappointment from the absence of an iPhone 5 drowned out much of the news on Siri. Luckily, I wrote a blog post about it then.

In that post, I wrote:

“[…] Siri is one of those things that sounds great if it works, but you can only confirm that by actually trying it out for yourself.”

I’ve always wanted to quote myself.

Alas, during this fine afternoon, I visited the Apple Store and got to try out Siri for the very first time. I’m happy to say that Siri exceeded my expectations by a mile, and I have absolutely no qualms in describing it as being simply, magical.

At the Apple Store

Walking into the Apple Store, I made a bee-line to the iPhone 4S table, which commanded one lone table next to the entrance. Picking up the iPhone, I held down on the Home button, summoning Siri. Without any introduction, I pressed the purple microphone icon and delivered my first request to Siri:

What time is it in Paris?

A progress bar began revolving around the icon, indicating that Siri was processing what I had just told her(yes, Siri is female). Seconds later, Siri remained silent. Soon, seconds turned into ten seconds. My lofty expectations were fast disintegrating before my eyes. What is taking you so long, Siri??

After about twenty or so seconds, Siri, returned from the dead and responded:

It is currently 12:02 pm in Paris, France.

Just as advertised. Shivers went down my spine. Apple had done it again.

Before long, I was telling Siri all sorts of things to do for me:

Siri, I need to hide a body.

“What kind of place are you looking for?”

Select swamp.

List of nearby swamps are displayed. I pick a random swamp.

Google Maps launches and I’m on my way to hide a body in a swamp.

Mind blown.

siri-iphone-4sEach time, Siri performed seamlessly. I think the reason why Siri took so long the first time around was because it had to process a new voice it had never heard before. That might explain why on subsequent attempts, Siri took no more than 2-3 seconds to return with an answer.

Using Siri for reminders seems like the killer application so far. I asked Siri to remind me to pick up milk tomorrow at 12pm. Without any hesitation, Siri set up a reminder and asked me to confirm.

Hmmmm…you’re quite capable, Siri. Can you do this?: Siri, remind me to pick up milk next Thursday at 12pm.

Same result. Next time, I’ll have to tell it to setup the reminder in “a fortnight”.

The Future of Siri

The App Store eventually became what it is today because it lived up to its motto of “there’s an app for that.” With over 500,000 apps in the App Store at last report in May, users from any demographic won’t have to search far to find countless apps that fits them.

I believe Siri will eventually be the same. Right now, Siri can’t do a lot of things, but it’s hard not to imagine that changing really soon. Imagine if Siri could:

  • Perform arithmetic; for the grocery store, restaurant, etc.
  • Play your favorite music based on the frequency of its playback and rating.
  • Purchase apps, movies, etc from the iTunes/App Store
  • Read an entire book you purchase from the iBookstore.

For all I know, Siri could already do some of the tasks I listed above. Just wait until iOS 6, and who knows what Siri will be capable of.

Conclusion

I’ve watched/read futuristic books/movies in the past, and Siri belongs in works of science fiction. Yet, here we are in 2011, telling our phones to read our emails for us. Those who preordered the iPhone 4S or purchased one during the last couple of days (not me) have the unfortunate task of being lab rats in using Siri in the wild. I know I would feel awkward being the only one standing in the bus asking my phone for tomorrow’s weather forecast. Maybe Apple is already building technology to let you talk to Siri with just your thoughts.

Ludicrous, yes. Impossible? As Justin Bieber will tell you: “Never say never.”

I can’t believe I just made a Justin Bieber reference.

Random: Can’t get enough of what clever thing Siri has to say? Check out Shit that Siri Says

  • http://www.40tech.com Evan

    I think what would make Siri really interesting would be if Apple would release an API so that other apps could tie into it. As it is now, I’m half-tempted to move back to iOS from Android.