Yesterday my beloved Apple Inc launched the latest iPhone. The iPhone 4S. A speed bump, with a new camera and air play capabilities and more besides. Well on the face of it it’s not bad, I won’t be getting one. Largely because I am tied into my contract with 3 and I’m not gonna sell my Grandma to get my hands on this.
On the 28th April 2010 Apple brought Siri, a company founded in 2007. One selling point of the iPhone 4S is Siri integration. The technology is amazing, Siri is a voice commanded digital personal assistant, a secretary without the short skirt and stockings… (shame) Siri recognises what you are saying and can schedule appointments, tell you the weather, read your messages and listen to you dictate replies and send them for you. As I say all amazing technology, I remember the early voice recognition stuff, you had to train it, even then it wouldn’t understand what you said, it often had to be used in environment which you shared with only deathly silence. Microsoft attempted to demo this and failed.
Fast forward a few years and Microsoft have succeeded, as anyone who has ever said “X Box Play DVD” will tell you. I even have a dictation app on my iPhone 4, it is very good, it is free and if I’m not drunk it understands me. I think it wishes I wasn’t drunk quite so often, so it had a fighting chance.
Going back in time once more, forgive me for more time travel than your average episode of Doctor Who in this piece… (hmmm maybe an excuse for a pic of Karen Gillan.) In the Late 70’s all the way through the 80’s. A conversation the world over:-
“Please leave your message after the beep.” said a metallic voice.
“Oh no, not one of these, urm I hate talking to these things… pick up if your….”
Then the tape would run out or catch fire. The hatred of the answer machine remains, even though we have progressed to voice mail, which has none of the tape issues. You still have to record a greeting, and even with advent of personalised greetings there is still the risk your potential new boss will here the personal message meant for your wife’s sister about your huge member….ship of the bridge club.. What!
So how does 1980’s tech relate to Karen Gillan and Siri. No matter how good Siri is and it is the best system I have ever seen of it’s type. It is still a machine, flesh and blood human beings such as Karen Gillan feel like a berk talking to a machine, and as much as those folks with the bluetooth headsets will say otherwise, if your out and about talking to Siri or even Karen Gillan, other people you encounter will think you are crazy fool talking to yourself.