Could Siri's Personal Assistant Really Help Users?

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News Posted: Fri, Feb 5 2010 6:34 PM
A startup named Siri has released what it calls its Siri Assistant app to the App Store. The app purports to help users with menial tasks, and do it all via voice recognition.

While available only on the ubiquitous iPhone right now, the company intends to release versions for Android and BlackBerry, as well.

The app will allow you to search for locations and perform various functions. For example, you can ask the app "Find me the closest Starbucks." Using Nuance's voice recognition technology, which is considered among the best, it will then return a list of Starbucks outlets near your current location to you.

Of course, thare are a number of apps that can help you in this way, sans voice recognition, at least, such as ManGo. Google's own Mobile App will perform voice searches, but if you ask it the above question, it will return a link to the Starbucks Restaurant Locator as its top result.

You can also ask the Siri Assistant to "find tickets to 'Avatar'" and it will find nearby showings and, if possible, allow you to buy them directly from the app. Here's what the company says about the app:
Just like a real assistant, Siri understands what you say, accomplishes tasks for you and adapts to your preferences over time.

Today, Siri can help you find and plan things to do. You can ask Siri to find a romantic place for dinner, tell you what’s playing at a local jazz club or get tickets to a movie for Saturday night.

Siri is young and, like a child taking its first steps, may be awkward at times. Siri may occasionally misunderstand things you ask it to do even within its range of understanding.

Nonetheless, Siri will improve quickly by getting to know you better and understanding a broader set of tasks. In fact, right now, Siri’s learning how to handle reminders, flights stats and reference questions. Our vision is that, over time, you’ll trust Siri to manage many personal details in your life - from recommending a wine you might enjoy to managing your to do list.

The current version of Siri is built for iPhone 3GS and requires iPhone OS 3.1 or later. Soon, Siri will run on the iPod Touch, iPhone 3G and additional mobile platforms, as well.
On an iPhone 3GS, Siri Assistant runs well. It's unclear if they say it's not designed for the iPhone 3G because of its slower processor, and that the app won't run at all because of that (or just poorly).

Currently, the app is free, and Siri reportedly makes a profit from any monetary transactions, like purchasing movie tickets, that are conducted through Siri. One issue we have with this (as well as a number of apps that use voice recognition): no Bluetooth headset support. It would be a lot easier if I didn't have to raise the phone to my mouth to use the app.

It does, however, have functionality built-in that would allow it to sense when you raise it to your head. This is an option off by default, and would obviously interfere with the same option on the Google Mobile App.

Watch a demo video below.

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acarzt replied on Fri, Feb 5 2010 9:51 PM

This app actually sounds pretty cool. I would probably use this a lot. Too bad I refuse to get an iphone. Perhaps if it ever comes out on Android maybe i'll pick up a nexus one :-)

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rapid1 replied on Fri, Feb 5 2010 11:16 PM

Yeah it does sound useful, but as I said before it's not the app for that profile. It is the 4-5-6-7-14 apps for that thing that kind of turns me off. I like to have differing options yeah I use several differing ones on Firefox. They have a lot of apps or add on's or etc etc, but not as many as the App store. I don't know how much I would like surfing through over a million apps, that seems to far to me.

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ClemSnide replied on Sat, Feb 6 2010 12:12 PM

I have (though haven't really tried) Dragon Dictation for my iPod Touch. (One of the problems is that I seldom use the microphone-enhanced earbuds included with the device.) I heard, though, that it doesn't do the work on your phone/player, but uploads the waveforms to a website, analyzes them there, and returns the results.

This is a pretty good way of doing things-- IF you have a constant and reliable network connection. The Touch has no 3G but rather Wifi, which I can get at home and at the Reading Terminal Market. (No McDonald's yet; I imagine that when they talked about installing Wifi in their restaurants, they were just making a "Jay Leno promise.") I have to wonder whether the Siri ap does the same thing, which would make it more capable but something you couldn't rely on if you spent any amount of time in dead zones.

"I didn't cry when Bambi's mother was shot... but I cried when HAL was turned off."

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just downloaded it xD, the voice recognition is pretty good, it recognized 99% of random stuff i said to it xD. they should have a future that reads back to you what u said so you can control it with a headphone and not just the screen. i said find deli and it came up with some but not small delis like the one on my block. mcdonalds is considered a deli? xD

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