Архив метки: Scott Forstall

Siri, Why Are You So Underwhelming?


When Apple first unveiled the iPhone 4S, there was one feature that left every jaw in the room on the floor. Her name is Siri. Scott Forstall demoed the personal assistant at Apple’s media event, and the entire presentation went off without a hitch. Then, as expected, Apple released their commercials, which were equally impressive. In short, everyone and their brother was amped for Siri.

Then the iPhone 4S was released. Save for some battery life issues and my own mini-rant on Siri’s gender and humility, there really weren’t many complaints. Now, however, I find myself more bothered by my own expectations than anything else.

Why? Because Siri isn’t perfect, and perfect is what I expected.

Let me pause right here to say a few things: First, I realize that my complaining about Siri’s limitations is a strictly “first world” problem. Secondly, this post shouldn’t be taken as a poor review of Siri. Sure, she has shortcomings, and like just about any app or software feature, she makes mistakes. But I love her, and I can safely say that won’t change. In fact, I use Siri as much as possible, which is kind of the problem.

The disappointment can all be traced back to the hype, which began with Apple’s demo. I don’t blame Apple for this — I guess it’s just a product of success — but with each new capability introduced, hope grew. If she can create reminders, she can edit them, right? Wrong. If she has access to the weather app, calendar app, clock, text, music, and the list goes on, she should have no trouble adding a contact to my phone, right? Wrong. If she can tell me the weather, she should be able to add a new location to my weather app, right? Wrong. What about playing TV shows? She’s already hooked up to iTunes, so she’ll surely play an episode of Friends for me, right? Nope, still wrong. OK fine, but Yelp… Yelp is baked right into Siri, so she has to at least be able to launch the app on my phone… right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

But Apple never said she’d be able to do that. And Siri is still in beta, technically, so there’s a good chance that she’ll be able to do much more in the coming months. But that doesn’t change my disappointment. Siri gave me hope — a feeling that we were truly jumping into the future, where a voice on a mobile computer could help me in almost any way. Not that it’s Siri’s fault, but this just isn’t the case.

Then, the commercials aired. Seeing that guy send and receive texts while he jogs and plays his music hands-free… Sold. I mean if he’s outside (near the waterfront, no less), on a jog, on his headphones, and Siri can understand everything he’s saying, then the voice recognition must be top-notch, right? Well, not wrong, but not right either.

Siri misunderstands me all the time. Maybe I mumble, or maybe it’s because I’m talking to her like I would talk to any human personal assistant. (That is, if I were ever powerful enough to have one.) But that’s what Apple promised right? Forstall said in the demo that it’s not about the words, it’s about the meaning. I should be able to ask about the weather in whatever way I’d like, but the more creative I get, the less intuitive Siri becomes. When asked, “Should an umbrella be a part of my outfit today?” Siri responded by saying, “Call Amanda Algiere paramountcy today.”

In a way, this is still an intuitive response. She couldn’t understand me, so she took to problem solving. I have a Brittany Algiere and an Amanda Boyd in my phone, so Siri pulled from that in her answer. Then again, she thought she heard me say “paramountcy,” too. In any case, I didn’t get the answer I was looking for. Whatever happened to “it just works?”

Then, there’s the issue of efficiency. One of the big capabilities of Siri is her ability to read and transcribe texts and emails. It sounds basic, but messaging is one of the primary uses of any phone, so getting these things done hands-free is a huge deal. But I noticed two things about her text transcription.

The first is that I can type faster than Siri transcribes in almost any case. I can also read faster than I can be read to — by Siri or a human makes no difference. Maybe I’m just totally awesome and text-obsessed, but I’m thinking this holds true for most people. The second thing I noticed loops back to miscommunication and misunderstanding. The whole point of using Siri to send a text is because either my hands are full, or I’m in a rush and need to get that text on its way now. If Siri misunderstands me the first time around — even if she gets it right on the second try — it’s slower than if I had typed the message myself. More than once, I’ve stood outside a train station while I was late waiting for Siri to get it right. It’s a total bummer to say the least.

Past that, we then have to account for Siri’s use of the network. Siri doesn’t work without a connection, plain and simple. But when do I need her most? When I’m out and about, on the move, and need my hands for what I’m doing. It’s on the move that your network connection, in general, is roughest. In other words, Siri fails most when you need her the most. Which sucks.

These are Siri’s shortcomings, but I can accept them. In fact, I welcome them, as long as Siri keeps setting reminders for me. As I’ve tried to state numerous times throughout the post, I love Siri, and she’s only going to get better and better. If you really think about it, the possibilities with Siri are endless. GigaOm’s John Wilson wrote a great piece on just that, outlining the advancements that could be made to the 911 system and health care in general courtesy of Siri.

No doubt Apple will push Siri as far as she can possibly go, tapping into a ton of popular apps, and eventually being able to do just about anything. But our current Siri is just a piece of that — incomplete.

That’s the thing about the disappointment Siri brings with her — in the end it’s my fault. She’s a direct step into the future, and any one step into the future leads to a thousand more. Just look at Joseph Marie Jacquard’s punched-card power loom. In 1801, way before any form of a computer existed, his system of reading punched cards to perform certain actions laid part of the ground work for binary code, the foundation of computing as we know it today. But no one expected the loom to transcribe texts for them.

Siri is a massive step into the future, and so our hopes and dreams for her are equally larger than life. That said, disappointment is sure to follow. She’s like a birthday party — not quite what you’d hoped for.

Feel free to cry if you want to.

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January 4, 1976

November 3, 1980, NASDAQ:AAPL

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Siri, Why Are You So Underwhelming?

Apple Reveals Siri Voice Interface: The “Intelligent Assistant” Only For iPhone 4S


All those rumors of deep voice integration in iOS 5 have just been confirmed. Scott Forstall is back onstage demoing the new “intelligent assistant” service, which surprisingly retains its original name: Siri.

Activating Siri requires a quick hold of the home button, and then Siri is ready to listen. So far, Forstall’s demos seem to confirm what we’ve already heard: it’s surprisingly robust, and is a champion when it comes to interpreting voice input.

So far, Forstall has asked Siri the current time in Paris, how the NASDAQ is doing today, and the location of great Greek food in Palo Alto. So far, Siri has answered all queries with aplomb, and the crowd is really getting a kick out of it.

The integration with iOS seems to be just as impressive as we’ve been hearing: you can ask it to remind you to call someone before you leave the office, and it’ll automatically create an entry in the Reminders app, complete with a geo-fence just to be sure. You can also ask Siri to read your queued messages to you and make an appointment in the Calendar app.

The worst part so far? Siri indeed seems to require the iPhone 4S’s extra horsepower, because it appears to be a 4S exclusive. The kicker? Siri was originally a run-of-the-mill iPhone app. What a shame.

Siri will be a beta for the time being, as it only supports English, German, and French voice input, but there are more language add-ons and tweaks to come.

Many thanks to sister site Engadget for the images!

Apple Reveals Siri Voice Interface: The “Intelligent Assistant” Only For iPhone 4S

Forstall Intros New And Improved iOS Apps: Cards, iMessage, And More


While everyone’s likely tuning in to catch a glimpse of the new iPhone, Scott Forstall just taken the stage to talk about some of the cool new apps that Apple has rolling out shortly.

First on the list is Cards, which allows users to “create and mail beautiful cards” directly form the iOS device of your choice. From what we’ve seen of the interface, it’s slick-looking and easy to use — typical Apple. Once created, Apple will print the cards on 100% cotton paper, slap some Apple-designed postage on it and mail it. The best part? You’ll receive a push notification from the USPS up delivery. It’ll run $2.99 for cards shipped in the US, and $4.99 for international users. Expect it to go live on October 12.

Next up are a few that have already been making the rounds: iMessages and Reminders. iMesssage is of course the iOS-to-iOS answer take on messaging that some are claiming will greatly reduce reliance on standard text messaging. Messages sent will push to all associated devices, which allows users to pick up where they left off at any time. Reminders does exactly what it sounds like, but with added twists like geo-fencing, which triggers certain reminders at certain locations. No more forgetting to buy milk when you’re close to the grocery store!

Safari’s iOS version has also got a bit of a feature bump: it now has Reader functionality, which strips out the content on a webpage and reformats it for easier reader. Super useful on the desktop, probably even moreso on mobile devices.

The stock Camera app also benefits from a few tweaks, like on-device editing. Users can now perform basic tricks like cropping photos and reducing red-eye on the fly. Sure, it’s no Photoshop Touch, but it’s a welcome addition nevertheless.


Thanks to our sister site Engadget for the images!

Forstall Intros New And Improved iOS Apps: Cards, iMessage, And More