Have you tried Siri, an iPhone app that uses speech recognition and natural language processing to perform tasks for you? I first heard of it when Merlin Mann recommended it on MacBreak Weekly. It can apparently arrange a cab for you, book dinner reservations, purchase movie tickets, and other such tasks that are time and location dependent. I had tried it once before, but I think I misunderstood the scope of its capabilities and was asking questions it wasn’t designed to answer. Friday night, I was taking my wife out to dinner for her birthday and decided to give it another try. A friend had recommended a sushi restaurant we hadn’t been to before, and while we knew generally where it was, I figured this would be a simple test for it.
I launched the application and spoke my query. “Find me a good sushi restaurant close by.” Rather than giving me an answer, it told me that I had to re-enter my email address and give it a password. Upon typing in my email address, I saw the following:
Okay, so they wanted to confirm my email address was valid. Fine. I pressed the home button and launched the Mail app. Sure enough, there was a message from Siri containing a link. Tapping that link switched from the Mail app to Mobile Safari and loaded a web page with a form asking me to create a password. Couldn’t that have been done in the application itself? Now, I use 1Password to generate and keep track of my passwords, so I switched from Mobile Safari to 1Password, generated a password, filed it, copied it, and then switched back to Mobile Safari and pasted it into both fields. Upon submission, the next page that loaded had some code in it that launched the Siri app again.
Here’s the kicker. When Siri loaded, it was in its default state. It had completely forgotten the query that I entered to begin with. I had to ask again. It did find the restaurant I was looking for, so it ultimately passed my test, but it sure took a circuitous route to get there. It wasn’t a very good experience.