Apple released the iPhone 4S this morning and the IB Times has sat down to have a quick chat with the voice-controlled personal assistant, Siri.
We've all seen iOS 5 - and in case you've been in a cave this week, here's our in-depth review - but one feature we've all been looking forward to is Siri. If the demos and trailers from Apple are to be believed; then Siri is truly an incredible application, but the truth isn't as simple as that, especially for UK users.
I began by asking Siri to remind me to get some milk after work. As you can see from the transcript below, Siri picked up that I wanted milk, but isn't able to identify the second clause. When asked for a time for the reminder, I said "half past five", which Siri interpreted as "+5". Siri then set a reminder for me to get some milk at 5 - instead of the 5:30 I had asked for.
Not too bad for a first attempt, and of course users should spend time get used to how Siri expects a conversation to be structured.
Next, I tried to send an email; Siri had no problems with identifying the contact and entering the subject line - I'll excuse the extra 'e', it still makes sense - but Siri failed at writing the email I wanted. I had expected it to take some time to learn how best to speak to Siri, but the system completely failed to understand what I said.
For my next task, I uncovered a major flaw; in the UK Siri cannot search for local businesses, shops or restaurants, and it is unable to provide directions to a location, despite the Maps app being able to do exactly that. In America, Yell provides the answers to location-based searches, but in the UK Apple does not yet have a company to partner with.
Asking Siri a location-based question gives the reply: "I can only look for businesses in the United States, and when you're using U.S. English. Sorry about that." This is a major let-down for UK customers, as asking for local points of interest was featured prominently during Siri's introduction.
I then tried asking Siri to enter a new contact in my phonebook, which gave me the following rejection:
Next I tried to find a few of Siri's amusing Easter eggs, by asking it the meaning of life:
In an attempt to find out a bit more about my new personal assistant, I asked: "Who are you?" followed by "What does Siri do?" Unfortunately Siri failed to deliver anything relevant, but did conduct an online search, while saying "let me think", and gave me a fact sheet about Sirius - which, confusingly, uses SIRI as its stock symbol.
If I had indeed wanted to know about Sirius then the result was comprehensive:
I only had a few minutes to play with Siri and being in a busy shop meant the conditions weren't ideal, but the lack of business searches is a significant issue that Apple needs to address quickly, and not being able to add contacts - a fairly lengthy process - is a let-down. While looking great in the adverts, Siri feels like a version 1.0 product and could be more polished than it currently is. The system really struggled to pick up what I was saying and often produced web searches instead of real information that could have been found with a different app. Siri will live or die on people using it on a regular basis, it needs a develop a userbase quickly otherwise it could fall by the wayside.