I recently did something I thought I might never do, which was actually use Apple’s voice assistant “Siri.”
I’ve had an iPhone forever, which means I’ve had Siri forever. But I’ve never had the slightest interest in actually using Siri, because I have no interest in talking to my phone. I’ve never understood why anyone else would actually want to talk to their phone and use Siri, either. So, consequently, I’ve never understood why Apple — and now Microsoft and Google — are devoting so much air time to proclaiming the joys of using Siri and her respective knock-offs.
(OK, fine. My kids did have a few minutes worth of fun playing with Siri at the beginning — by making her say dumb things. They had fun, so I had fun. But Apple hasn’t been promoting Siri as an ironic kid-entertainment-tool. So there didn’t seem to be much future in that Siri use case. And, indeed, there wasn’t. After about 15 minutes, my kids got bored with Siri and fired up Netflix again.)
But I just actually used Siri!
I was driving, and I had to make some telephone calls.
I didn’t want to fiddle with my phone’s icons and address book to find the folks I wanted to call, because that might have attracted the attention of the authorities. (A year ago, I got a ticket for “improper mobile phone use” for fiddling with my iPhone at a stoplight. I contested the ticket — and won! Story forthcoming! — but I wasn’t eager to get another one.)
I was going to ask my daughter, who was riding shotgun, to fiddle with my phone and press the right buttons.
But then I remembered Siri.
So, instead, I asked my daughter to figure out how to turn Siri on.
My daughter turned Siri on.
I asked her how to use Siri.
My daughter explained that I needed to hold the “Home” button down.
So I held the “Hone” button down. And when I heard the beep-beep, I said, “Call [PERSON I WANTED TO CALL],” just like I remembered Samuel Jackson doing in those seductive (and absurd) Siri ads Apple aired back when everyone was convinced talking to your phone was going to be the next big thing.
And it worked!
Siri called the person I wanted to call!
Then, after I hung up with that person, she did it again a second time!
Yes, no sooner had I finished using Siri than I had to turn her permanently off because the moment I tried using the iPhone keyboard (after stopping the car) I kept fat-fingering the Siri-summoning button next to the “space” bar. And that reminded me why I turned off Siri in the first place. That and the seemingly egregious battery usage and her general uselessness.
But I at least now understand why some people use Siri, at least for one very narrow application. Next time I have a long car drive, if I can remember to turn Siri on before I start, I might use her again.
(I would love to know how many other people actually use Siri, though. I’ve never seen any good statistics on that. If you have, please send them my way. Because in lieu of seeing persuasive evidence to the contrary, I’m going to continue to suspect that the potential for talking to your phone is still over-rated. Just like smartwatches.)