The intelligent personal assistant application called Siri quickly gained recognition in the United States. The app has many useful features; users can communicate with Siri in the traditional, written way, and also verbally/orally. They can ask her questions, and get valuable answers and information. Siri also makes recommendations, finds the closest clubs, pizza places etc. But most importantly – according to Siri Inc. – she was supposed to learn from and adapt to user’s preferences (and therefore personalize answers, recommendations and so on…), making her a true personal assistant. The application was supposed to bring a revolutionary change into the assistant software field.
Siri Inc. were working on their main product for a few years, originally wanting to make it available for iPhones and BlackBerries (essentially – for all smartphones). The company was trying to reach the widest range of consumers possible, for obvious, commercial reasons. But everything changed when they was bought by Apple in April of 2010. Apple wanted Siri exclusively, and that was what happened a year later, when this intelligent personal assistant was introduced to the public on August 9, 2011. Siri became (at least for now) another unique application of iPhones.
Siri later messed up
Siri quickly became popular, and her features scrutinized. Users started complaining about the app’s usefulness, its ability to learn and personalize answers and about communication problems. Siri’s frequent inability to understand what is spoken to her was widely criticized (one of the reasons for this may be the fact that Siri is really bad with accents. So if you are from the South of US you will have problems, but if you are from Scotland, or you are learning English as your second language – you are simply screwed). Answering user questions with a list of Google search results, and not much more was another reason for critique.
Users quickly found out that Siri may not be as good as advertised (seriously, some people believed she would be, and filed a lawsuit against Apple, complaining that iPhone 4s and Siri does not function as advertised and that iPhone 4s is just a “more expensive iPhone”. Really? people STILL believe everything they see in commercials?).
But Siri has one other special ability – she can become a source of comedy. Siri can “help” you with some – very peculiar – problems. For example: you need to get rid of a dead body – Siri will suggest a place to dump it. You want to buy some illegal substances – she will also recommend locations where you can do it. Conversations with Siri and some of her brilliant answers can be so funny, irrelevant and absurd, that there is even a whole page dedicated to this topic called S***ThatSiriSays.com.
Here is an example of what you could find there:
[photo from: http://shitsirisays.com]
All these problems with Siri may soon be resolved (could it mean the end of S***SiriSays.com?). Just recently, on June 11, Scott Forstall, Apple’s Senior Vice President announced a new version of the personal assistant due this fall, when the iOS 6 will be published. So with the arrival of Apple’s new mobile operating system, a new and improved Siri will arrive. So what will be fixed and what kind of changes can we expect?
According to Apple, the last eight months helped them understand the nature of a number of problems and fix many of them. New Siri will be able to do much much more, than just giving her user a list of Google search results. She was equipped with a ton of new abilities, including user navigation, making reservations in restaurants and posting new tweets or fb status updates. But the biggest step in her evolution comes in her communication skills. Apple’s goal is to make her as natural as possible. To make her sound and “act” like a real personal assistant, not just a talking application. And apparently, they managed to take another step towards achieving this goal.
During a recent demonstration the public received just a taste of things to come. Scott Forstall asked Siri “Who is taller: LeBron or Kobe?” and got a quick, correct answer: “LeBron James appears to be slightly taller.” Nothing special? Better think again. This ability should become the one users are really going to appreciate. If Siri can answer such questions adequately and not just show an info from Wikipedia about the height of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, than some of the mocking might actually end and the amazement begin. After all – this is what we would want our assistant to do – check all the information and give us just the specific detail we need.
Apple knows that Siri’s features can be expanded, and is aware of the app’s potential. This is why we shouldn’t be surprised if in a few months, when the New Siri is officially presented, she amazes us with other new abilities and communication skills. Or maybe, just like a year ago, Siri won’t live up to huge expectations. Then the year 2013 will bring a “New New Siri” about to “blow our minds”. And then in 2014 again…