Oct 18, 2011

The Thing About Siri



When I first played around with Siri a year or so ago, back when it was still an iPhone app, my initial reaction was "Wow. This is the Jetsons. Now."

The only problem was, it didn't really work. It made a lot of mistakes and eventually it started to feel like using AOL to check the weather circa 1993 - I could run upstairs, find a Zagat's and look up a restaurant in less time. (Not to mention clicking on over to Yelp.)

Still, the idea itself was pretty seriously breakthrough and I wasn't surprised to read that Apple had snatched it up.

The Siri that Apple released with the iPhone 4S is a huge step forward from where they were last year, but it's still not there yet.

And that's a problem, because aside from Apple fanboys and tech bloggers, voice recognition is the sort of thing that doesn't get a second chance. 

People will play with Siri for a while - there's a meme floating around the internet about Siri suggesting escort services when someone complained about being horny- no doubt to be followed by similar memes-- but the third time your average user says "sushi" and Siri shows them "slushy," it's going to be relegated to the Fun Toys category rather than Useful Tools.

Voice recognition is one of those categories where we've been disappointed for so long by products that make things more, rather than less, complicated, or that need "training" we're unlikely to give them a second chance.

That said, I'm still very intrigued by the possibilities of Siri and similar technology. But only when they finally get the whole voice recognition thing right.


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