Meet Siri. Your new personal assistant.
Actually, Siri is the new personal assistant embedded in Apple's soon-to-be-launched iPhone (News - Alert) 4S. It's a sort of voice-activated “co-pilot” that can help you (if you choose to let it) with calender functions, e-mails, text messages, search, reminders, trolling Wikipedia and more.
You can ask Siri, for example, “Do I need a raincoat today?” and Siri will check the weather for you. When a text message comes in, you can ask Siri to read it to you. Rather than fumbling with manually setting an alarm, you can say to Siri, “Wake me up at 7:00 am tomorrow.”
Siri can remind you about your anniversary, initiate a call to your mother, reply to a text message for you via dictation, search for information about the breeding habits of the pileated woodpecker, check the stock market or currency exchange rates, put a new appointment into your calender and tell you how many shopping days there are until Christmas. (See more examples on Business Insider).
Siri can even understand the iPhone user when he or she has had a little too much to drink. In essence, it can “speak drunk.” Nice.
Sounds great, but the big question is...will iPhone users really use Siri, or is doomed to become an annoyance you have to shut off, sort of like that stupid animated paperclip that no one used (but everyone moaned about) in Microsoft Office?
Siri was originally created as an iOS app in 2007 as a spin-out from SRI (News - Alert) (Stanford Research Institute) International's Intelligence Center. (Which means Siri stems from DARPA, or the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for high-tech R&D.) The company was acquired last year by Apple (News - Alert). The software's makers claim it's very smart, and capable of adapting to the user's individual preferences over time and personalizing results.
While Siri may be game-changing, it's not the first personal assistant for smartphones. There is Vlingo, a voice-activated personal assistant, available as a downloadable app for iPhone, Android (News - Alert) and BlackBerry.
So it remains to be seen how many users will choose to let Siri ride as their co-pilot. Apple may have trouble with market penetration in the Japanese market, however. Turns out “Siri” sounds similar to the Japanese word (spelled phonetically) “Shiri,” which can be loosely translated to “ass” in Japanese.
Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell