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Will Siri Work For Me?

There has been a lot of talk about Siri lately with many people discussing whether this is a great program or the worst thing to ever come out of Apple. For those who have been living under a rock, Siri is the virtual voice assistant on the new iPhone 4S that can understand and reply in normal “human” English. That is to say, you can say “What’s the weather going to be this weekend?” and Siri will understand what you mean.

Unless you have an accent, that is.

Apple has stated on their website that Siri is the beta version and thus isn’t finished, but the adverts have lead people to believe that Siri is the be all and end all to their phone woes.  Footage of a man getting Siri to rearrange his schedule while he is running is just one of the many scenes that Apple released to introduce this gem to the world, but they forgot to mention some of the fine print in their advertising. According to the Apple website, Siri can understand and speak in French, German, and English, and it states that she can understand American, UK, and Australian accents when spoken in English. However, these countries are very big and many residents are angry that Siri is not accepting their accent.

Take the case of the poor Scottish man who tried to get Siri to create a reminder for him. According to the Siri website, this is one of her basic functions and she should be able to do this many different ways. When one watches the YouTube video one can see that Siri doesn’t understand the word “reminder” when spoken in a Scottish accent. What makes this worse is that the man doesn’t necessarily have a very thick accent either.

There is also the issue of an Australian journalist who attempted to get Siri to phone his dad. She didn’t understand the word “dad” and attempted to telephone Dave. In the end, the man gave up and decided instead to refer to his father by his name.

There is also footage of a man who is not a native English speaker trying to ask Siri about the weather. This is the most disturbing video as one would assume that Siri was designed to pick out the words and understand them rather than the whole sentence, but Siri couldn’t understand the sentence spoken “what weather today?” which includes the three basic keywords to run a search.

Apple claims that it has plans to release Siri in other languages in 2012, but no word on identifying different accents. There is also the issue that Siri can only locate businesses in America, which again is another one of her selling features.

Reports have also begun appearing about the lack of Siri security. Unless the user physically turns a function that locks Siri with the iPhone is locked, Siri will continue to work even when the phone itself is locked with a password. This is troubling because a thief who has stolen an iPhone 4S will have access to all of your e-mails and messages despite not having access to the phone past the lock screen.

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