It’s incredibly easy to call Siri a gimmick—a toy that says funny things.When my iPhone 4S came in the mail, I played with Siri and didn’t think I’d adopt it as a means of doing things on a daily basis.
But after two weeks with my new iPhone 4S, Siri has already changed the way I live my life.
Most importantly, Siri has made some very specific tasks a lot less annoying, which makes you feel good every time you use Siri.
Here are a few scenarios where Siri comes in most handy:
- Many people sleep with a notepad on a bed table because important ideas always strike while you’re trying to fall asleep. With Siri, I don’t even have to turn on the lights. I just reach over to my iPhone, hold down the home button for a second, then say “Remind me to email Noah Davis at 8AM tomorrow” or “Add iPhone apps slideshow to my Article Ideas note.”
- It’s impossible to type accurately while walking down the street, and odds are you bump into somebody even if you’re typing accurately. Siri enables me to dictate texts and emails while I’m walking. All I do is hold the phone up to my ear and Siri automatically activates.
- Replying to text messages while driving is also really amazing.
- I like to take naps, and sometimes to cook. “Set a timer for 30 minutes” and other such commands come in handy very frequently. Also, “wake me up tomorrow at 7 a.m.” is great, too.
- Using Spotlight to find a song you want to hear is annoying because auto-correct doesn’t operate inside the Spotlight search field. And if I’m running or walking, I can’t type anyway. “Play the song Someone Great” is the quickest way to hear the song.
- Need to find a quick email from somebody? “Show me emails from Steve Kovach” works like a dream.
- Quick calculations for random things, and quick look-ups for things I used to use Wikipedia for like “what is the population of New York City?”
- Skipping Safari and just saying “Search for…” to get straight to Google search results.
- Any time I’m on the street and need to find a place, it’s easier to ask “Where is the Bowery Hotel?” instead of opening up Google Maps, typing, and tapping Search.
When I think about setting a reminder (which is pretty often), I go straight to Siri. These nine bullets are scenarios where Siri has become my first option instead of a “forced” solution. Siri became the first option because it makes these tasks easier.
And some things I don’t use Siri for:
- Asking Siri about the weather takes longer than simply tapping on the weather app.
- Finding restaurants on Siri is just plain dumb. Are you really going to pick a restaurant based on a “star” review? Windows Phone’s Local Scout feature suffers in the same way. Using an app like Urban Spoon or Yelp itself is much more useful, and more importantly, faster. But if you need to find a Starbucks, then Siri definitely works.
- Moving around and altering meetings using Siri can be a bit frustrating. It’s easier to just tap into your calendar and change something.
Looking forward, Siri has a ton of potential. Siri will eventually come to the Mac, and will come to an Apple TV if the company ever makes one.
Steve Jobs claimed that he had finally “cracked the code” for TV, and part of that code was interacting with your TV. Saying “turn on ESPN” is a lot easier than poking through a channel guide. Being able to say “Tape Hoarders later today” would be useful.
So the rub here is that while Siri can do a great many things, it’s not always the simplest way to do those things. Common tasks like taking a quick note, setting a reminder, or doing a web search are things we do many times per day, and that’s where Siri is a game-changer.
Where Siri excels is helping you during the moments when you really, really don’t feel like typing or poking at buttons—which turns out to be a lot of the time.