I am in love with Siri. I though I would never use it, but now I see it as another wonderful paradigm shift from Apple — just like the introduction of the iPod, iPhone and iPad forever changed the way we interact with music, phones, and computers, Siri will change the way we get things done.
First, let me be clear that I am not an Apple fanatic. I like Apple just fine, and I think their technology products are brilliant. But I don’t sit on the edge of my seat waiting for every crumb of new product news, and although I think that Steve Jobs was a genius, I’ve never been tempted to watch one of Apple’s product launch “shows.” And, I actually have a windows laptop, not a Mac.
I will admit that I was very excited to get my new iPhone 4s, and I did order it online a few hours after it went on sale. But I was not particularly excited about the new phone itself — ironically I was REALLY excited to be getting rid of my iPhone 3g. While the 3g had started out awesome, it had a crappy camera, no video and no multitasking. Even worse, it had become so slow that it was unusable 75% of the time, seemingly always when I needed it most.
So, I immediately loved my new 4s. I could take great pictures and HD video, even if I didn’t have my full-sized cameras with me. And I could multitask my apps, which eliminated some real annoying inconveniences. I had heard the buzz about Siri, but I didn’t think I’d every have a need for it. But once again, Apple showed me that I actually really needed something that hadn’t even been on my radar. And now, there is no going back.
Without actually using it yourself, it’s hard to explain just how awesomely powerful and convenient Siri can be. But I will try…
Yesterday I went on a run. I was listening to an iPod playlist while I used RunKeeper to track my progress and manage my interval sprints. Suddenly, I got a text that I knew was important. In my pre-4s days, I’d have to stop, take out my iPhone, kill RunKeeper, fiddle with the phone, read the text, and then type a reply. Then I’d have to fire up RunKeeper again, get incredibly annoyed that I lost both my RunKeeper stats and my only half finished interval coaching log, put the phone back in my pocket, and start running again, after having lost all my momentum.But yesterday, in my iPhone 4s Siri world, all I did was reach up and press the button on my headphones. The music faded out and I heard Siri’s distinctive “What can I help you with?” beep. “Read text,” I said. “New message from Ellen Lichtenberger,” announced Siri before proceeding to read me the message. “You can reply or read it again,” she followed up. “Reply,” I said before dictating a reply text. Then, she read me my dictation, asking if I wanted to send it. I said, “Send.” The music faded back on and I was all set. I had never stopped running, and neither had Runkeeper — it kept running in the background, so my intervals and stats continued uninterrupted. Wow, how awesomely convenient was that. I was very happy!
That’s just one example. But there are many more. Driving in the car is another place where Siri excels. I press my headphone button, hear Siri’s beep, and say “Call mom.” Siri responds with “Calling Mom and Dad Lichtenberger. Home,” and I’m connected. (And yes, Siri knows how to say “Lichtenberger” — better, in fact, than most people I meet.) Or I can say “Directions to Laser Quest in Danvers” and Siri will bring up Google Maps with driving directions from my current location. Or I can say “Text Mark,” and Siri is ready to take dictation and send a text. And the whole time, I never took my eyes off the road.
And, curiously, Siri also has a sense of humor. Ask her “How much wood does a woodchuck chuck?” and she will reply with either a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy reference “42. Everyone knows that.” or an homage to Monty Python’s Holy Grail, “That depends on if the wood is African or European.” I love it!
While you might not understand it without experiencing it, I know that I can never go back to my pre-Siri days. It is so incredibly convenient and useful, I don’t know how I lived without it. I guess it’s the same as not comprehending how I could go through life without 800 songs, my latest photos, a camera and camcorder, a few of my favorite movies, and GPS maps with driving directions — all in my pocket everywhere I go.
I think that Siri is a game changer and soon it (and it’s inevitable competitors) will be a part of everyday life, just like smartphones, Google, and Facebook.