Today’s Apple announcement about the new iPhone 4S might have been disappointing for some, but I am geeking out with excitement over the Assistant feature called “Siri.” At risk of sounding like a total fanboy parrot, I think this new feature is going to change the way people use their phones. I’m serious. In the same way Apple changed the way we listen to music, changed the way we use a mouse, and frankly changed the way we use phones when they first launched the iPhone and Apps… they are going to change it again.
Siri acts as your personal assistant – you can ask it just about anything and it will give you an answer. “What’s a good burger joint around here?” and Siri will give you a list of burger places near you. “How do I get to Target?” and Siri pulls up directions to Target. ”What’s the weather like today in Seattle?” Siri responds “Its raining you idiot.” (ok maybe not the idiot part).
You can ask it to do tasks too – tasks like set a reminder, open an app, play a song, etc. It can read your emails and texts aloud, and dictate your spoken word as well. Say “Meet Jacobs for lunch at 1pm” and it sets a calendar appointment. Say “Move my 1pm to Noon” and it changes your calendar appointment, then asks you “Would you like to message Jacobs about the change in time?”
The most fascinating part to me is the location aware features combined with Siri and the new To-Do Reminders app. You can tell Siri to remind you to call your wife when you leave the office, and it will setup the reminder for you. Then, as you literally drive away from your office it will pop up and remind you to call your wife. You can tell it to remind you to pick up milk on your way home and it will sense when you are driving home and remind you. The possibilities are endless. Set it to remind you about that Jamba Juice coupon and you’ll get notified as you walk into Jamba Juice.
You can talk to Siri like you would a person. Say you want to text your wife that you are running late. You simply talk into your phone “Tell my wife I’m running late.” and Siri will text message your wife (yes it knows who your wife is) with a message “I’m running late.” Voice controls in the past would have taken several steps to do that, and would have never recognized “my wife” as a person in your contacts.
Siri not only understands what you say, it’s smart enough to know what you mean. So when you ask “Any good burger joints around here?” Siri will reply “I found a number of burger restaurants near you.” Then you can say “Hmm. How about tacos?” Siri remembers that you just asked about restaurants, so it will look for Mexican restaurants in the neighborhood.
This is amazing folks. And because its Apple, its going to work well. This isn’t some clunky speech to text app like we’ve seen before. This is true artificial intelligence, built into your phone. And its going to be impossible for competitors to truly match this. You Windows Phone lovers better not even mention “Mango” in the same sentence with “Siri” because we’re talking Apples and Oranges here (Pun intended. Although it should be Apples and Lemons).
Apple moved us away from typing and poking with styluses, to swiping and taping our fingers. Now they’re changing it again so all we have to do it use our voice to tell our phone what we want. Amazing.
Siri is only available with the new iPhone 4S, which is available for pre-order this Friday the 7th for delivery October 14th.