October 21, 2011

When to Use Siri?

When to use Siri?  For more than entertainment.

Apple’s Siri ad shows some of the ways Siri may get used. A recap of Siri’s limits (below) will help you find the best uses of Siri and when to use it.

Siri has been entertaining everyone who uses it with right, sometimes wrong and often witty answers. Siri’s most popular use could be as an entertainment service if its responses continue to be fresh and witty.

But, Apple clearly intended for Siri to be more useful for users.

Understanding Siri’s limits can help you answer the question of, when to use Siri?

Best Use of Siri
Siri can be very useful when you are in situations where you cannot look at a display or type. For example, while driving a car (if it is a quiet car and Siri can understand you).

Siri Voice Interface is Slow
Although speaking/listening seems more natural, it is also very slow.

Compare it to how much more and faster you get information visually from a phone’s display. And how fast you get results by typing in a search query in Google.

When you have a choice to get information visually vs via voice, the visual interface will always win.

Siri’s May Not Understand You
This is the most critical step in interacting with Siri. Sometimes, Siri may not understand you.
If Siri cannot understand what you are asking for, it cannot give you results.

The Internet is full of stories of how Siri has worked wonderfully for some and how Siri has failed for others.

Siri’s voice recognition technology is imperfect. Your accent or lack of it, whether you speak clearly, whether your surroundings are noisy (using speakerphone, in the car, in a mall, wind noise etc) etc will all determine whether Siri can understand you.

And, if Siri cannot follow your commands all the time, you are likely to keep it turned off.

Siri Voice Interface is Intrusive
Intrusive to people around you and therefore you may not be able to use Siri in many situations.

It is probably ok to use Siri when you are alone but when people are around you it affects them and you. You may not want others to know what you are doing with Siri and others may not want to hear your conversation with Siri. e.g. in a meeting, it is easier to type a quick text rather than use Siri.

Siri’s Voice Quality
To put it mildly, Siri voice is awful – with a weird robotic accent. Listening to Siri occasionally is ok but it can be a big turn-off if you have to listen to it daily.

And it is not because Siri voice is new and will keep improving. Apple picked a voice for Siri that has been around in the voice industry for years and hasn’t seen any improvements in that time.

Apple knows the importance of having a great user interface and should have worked on providing a better text-to-speech voice for Siri.

Given the above limits, you can choose when will you use Siri. Also, keep in mind the Siri privacy issues.

Siri is great technology but with some limitations. As Apple keeps improving Siri over time, it will surely get used more. In the interim, use Siri for entertainment when you are bored.