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After a month, Siri finds her voice

Michael deAgonia | Nov. 25, 2011
The arrival of voice technology that works marks an inflection point in computing.

More annoyingly, Siri requires an active network connection to work -- even for tasks local to the phone. As most AT&T subscribers can attest, this just isn't possible at all times. Even if you have a connection, Apple's servers -- which process the commands -- have to be up and running as well, and they've already had brief outages. There's nothing more annoying than the sudden fail of technology you've grown to rely on.

Despite existing shortcomings, the crazy-good part about Siri is that this is just the beginning. How quaint the software that powered the original iPhone now looks, four years in. Imagine how quaint Siri 1.0 will seem four years from now. Like the hardware and software that hosts it, Siri will only become better with time.

Siri restaurant listing
Tell Siri you're hungry and you'll a list of nearby restaurants.

Any technology hoping to gain mass appeal has to be good enough to change the thought process from "Why are you using that?" to "Why aren't you using that?" In essence, it has to offer a continuing "wow" moment that starts a feedback loop of sorts. You try Siri and find that it generally works well enough to keep trying it. You find that it's not just useful, but fun, which encourages more experimentation. And that helps the technology behind it "learn" how users are using it, thus allowing engineers to make it better and, in turn, encourage even more use.

Like any good paradigm-shifting technology, Siri removes layers that have, until now, prevented many people from interacting with the wealth of information available at their fingertips. Its arrival marks another turning point in how we integrate technology (and information) into our daily lives.

On a lark, I told Siri, "You're pretty cool technology, Siri."

The response: "Am I? I'd like to be."


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