With today’s announcement of the iPhone 4S, Apple attempts to crush their competitors with not a sexy design, but with software. Siri, the new ‘humble personal assistant’ (don’t worry, it’s coming to Canada) brings all new voice navigation, and from what I saw in the ‘Let’s Talk iPhone’ keynote stream, it’s quite impressive.
Here’s what some of the hands on press had to say about their experiences with Siri. It’s interesting to note Apple did not allow the press to take pictures and videos of Siri. Most likely a smart move to avoid people from posting about how ‘OMFG SIRI SUCKS’ etc prior to the phone’s launch. Remember ‘antennagate’? That’s okay, I’m sure we’ll see the full reviews posted soon by the usual suspects.
The most impressive part was the demo of Siri, the new assistant that lets you do just about anything you can do on your phone — but with your voice. We tried to psych it out with a bunch of random requests, including the history of Chester, Vermont (a lovely town) and the best Ramen places in San Francisco. Siri never faltered, never missed a beat. It worked as well as Scott’s demo up on the stage. There’s nothing better to say than that. We even sent ourselves a few text messages, which Siri transcribed to a T. Of course, the lady on the other end still sounds eerily robotic, but we’re hoping for smoother responses from the alien within in a future update.
Siri is arguably the main draw. Apple’s new voice-control assistant, Siri makes promises that we’ve learnt to be wary about over the years, but after a brief test we’re surprisingly impressed. Easily activated, with a new microphone icon on the regular on-screen keyboard, Siri managed just what it did on-stage during the keynote. We could ask it local information, such as the weather or to find nearby stores, while online searching and complex questions for Wolfram Alpha were handled with little delay. Speed can be the killer for services like this – people just won’t wait if their phone takes 30 seconds to look up an answer – but Siri delivered in just seconds.
CNET posts a video of an Apple employee demonstrating Siri hand on (non-iOS friendly):
TechRadar hands-on video:
There are also some slighty twee but satisfying Easter eggs. Ask Siri who she/he is brings up “a humble personal assistant” asking it the meaning of life was met with “To answer questions like these”.(Although the obvious answer is 42, right?).
Who’s excited for Siri?