With the iPhone 4s and iOS5, came Siri. Apple’s very own personal assistant. Apple had shown what Siri was capable of on stage, at the the iPhone 4s announcement, leaving some very keen on getting their hands on the iPhone 4s. Before the announcement of the iPad 3, the rumour mill had been busily churning with what would be on the latest tablet from Cupertino. The newest flavour of Apple’s tablet was thought to have had the speech recognition software Siri. But is Siri really all that it’s cracked up to be? Why did Apple not let the tablet have any Siri love?
Apple is well known for using very descriptive words to make their products sounds even more amazing and magical (retina display, anyone?). Siri was no exception. Yet, after the release, it was seen to have major holes in user experience. Although the software is still only in beta, I will judge this software as I have experienced it – broken and incomplete. I am not able to search for stores or businesses, use maps or traffic. Basically, it is (at least for me) text to speech and voice dialling software. Apple has restricted businesses, maps, and traffic to those using US English, and only when you are in the USA, as Siri often reminds me.
But even if I had all the available functions, would all/any of this be of any use on a tablet? In my honest opinion, no.
The majority of my Siri use comes while driving, with my Bluetooth handsfree – sending and reading text messages (which can return some very interesting results). Obviously, my iPad is never connected to my cars system, nor do I message off of the tablet. Siri’s functionality in this case would be somewhat redundant.
The iPad is a large screened device, and not one that is likely to be in your pocket, with you subsequently controlling it from a headset. Siri on the iPhone, is predominantly used when physically completing a task requires you to stop or interrupt what you are doing (such as driving or running). The iPad however, is a user centric device, which is media driven, and does not usually complete communication tasks asked by the user (phone calls, checking maps, etc).
Siri, with her (or his) limited functionality, is a gimmick for the world outside the US. The software is quite incredible, and I praise what Apple has done. However Siri belongs on a phone, and that is it. Bringing the software to an iPad will please many people, but in reality, it will not be utilised to its full potential. This would be why Apple chose to limit “Siri” to only dictation on the iPad 3. Dictation allows you to speak, and the iPad to transform your voice to text. With this available in third-party apps, it means you can update twitter and Facebook from just saying the words. But be careful, you never know what Siri (or iPad dictation) will think you are saying, so don’t go updating your status without checking it first.