Siri understands what you say, at least most of the time. Siri knows exactly what you meant, at least it tries to with varying success. Siri can help you contemplate the meaning of life. Siri may not be perfect, but in the land of voice recognition it is the best that is out there.
Soon, Siri will make the leap from the iPhone to the iPad thanks to iOS 6; a move that has a lot of people wondering if Apple knows what they are doing and if Siri is really ready.
During a recent test, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster put his ever-inquisitive mind to good use when “he (or his staff) asked an iPhone 1,600 questions, 800 on the busy streets of Minneapolis, 800 in a quiet room.”
The results of Munster’s experiment were clear:
- Siri comprehends 83% of queries in noisy conditions, 89% in a quiet room.
- Siri answers accurately 62% of the time on the street and 68% in a quiet room.
By comparison, Google’s search engine was more accurate by over 20% –which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when you had to type your query in at the keyboard (not to mention the exponentially greater length of time that Google has been at the question and answer game compared to Siri).
Other criticisms of Siri include her reliance on other services to find the information you are looking for; according to Munster, the app gets 60% of its answers from Google, 20% from Yelp, 14% from WolframAlpha, 4% from Yahoo and 2% from Wikipedia. So what? Apple created Siri to make your life easier (and more hands-free). If you weren’t asking Siri for the answers to your questions, you would be searching those third-party services manually.
That really isn’t the primary thing people complain about. It appears that the expectation is for Siri to read your mind. In one of his example queries, Siri was asked “Where is Elvis buried?” and the response indicted that Siri felt “buried” was Elvis’s last name. Examples like this could be remedied by retraining ourselves as much as anything. Just as with anything in life, the quality of the answer will depend greatly on the quality of your question.
With all of that said, Siri is actually pretty great (in my experience) at sending and reading text messages, checking the weather and setting reminders. Sure, the voice recognition isn’t perfect, but the technology is still pretty new –heck, the MyFord Touch system in my car isn’t any better when it remains absolutely certain that I am saying “Kids” instead of “The Hits” every single time I try to tune in to that channel on my satellite radio using voice commands.
The new version of iOS has evolved your digital personal assistant with a number of updates including the ability to launch apps for you, make reservations at your favorite restaurant and then later directing you to a nearby theater to watch that movie she just told you so much about. How well these and other updates will function (like the expected boost that should come from Apple’s new native maps app) still remains to be seen, but it does show Apple’s continued commitment to evolving Siri into something bigger and better.