When most people think of the Let’s Talk iPhone
event, which happened last week, they think disappointment.
iPhone 5. No redesign, just an updated iPhone 4S. And Siri, who cares? Voice
recognition, as if I haven’t seen that before!
News reports of disappointment over the iPhone 4S’s
unveiling have been trumped by reports of the iPhone 4S breaking sales records
since the iPhone’s inception. And early reviews of the Siri feature on the
iPhone 4S indicate that the feature is much more than the yawn like voice
recognition we’ve all been accustomed to. Siri is much more than voice
recognition, it is an artificial intelligence feature that will have the
iPhone’s competitors going back to the drawing boards…
The voice technology that you are used to involves
you speaking in “code” that the computer understands. Siri, on the other hand, allows
you to talk to it like you would in a normal conversation, decoding your speech
by linking certain words or phrases together. Yes, it can decode your natural speech
and interpret it while it is in text form. But behind the voice recognition
technology is a 230 page patent application ,
which gives Siri its “magic”. A voice assistant that allows you to talk in
natural language wouldn’t be of much use if it isn’t useful. And, in the “usefulness”
department, Siri shines:
Ask Siri what the weather is going to be like and
it will tell you. After pulling up a forecast you can ask Siri, “how about in
Miami?” and it will pull up the weather for that city. Siri can infer that you want information about weather
in Miami without explicitly telling it, much like a human being.
Siri is able to answer so many questions like a
human that you can forgive it for the times it can’t provide an answer to some
of your questions. For example…
Ask “What is the meaning of life?” and she will
Ask “Siri, who are you?” and she will respond: “I
am your humble personal assistant.”
Ask “Tell me a joke.” and she will respond: “I can’t.
I always forget the punch line.”
Although Siri is far from perfect, it represents
the next logical step for Apple, which has always went by the “less is more”
approach when it comes to computing, decreasing the amount of time it takes to
get from point A to point B. The iPad and iPhone already dwarf sales of traditional
desktop and laptop computers because they work beautifully with our fingers.
Going one step further and eliminating the need to even touch anything is
exactly what Siri does, by using out natural voice.
Early reviewers of Apple’s new voice assistant are in
agreement: although Siri has its faults,
it’s a gigantic step forward in the field of AI, one which Apple will continue
to develop and refine, leading us to the next great frontier in personal