March 1, 2013

Siri: iPhone’s Personal Assistant

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Way back in the early days of voice recognition, here’s a sample dictation session with my 1997 version of Dragon Naturally Speaking.

I say: “I want a cupcake.”

Dragon writes: “The man picked up the rake.”

I say: “Delete that.”

Dragon writes: “Deplete cats.”

I say: “CHANGE THAT!”

Dragon writes: “Change bats.”

I scream: “STOP IT!”

Dragon writes: “You started it.”

Lordy but I hated that blankety-blank program.

Flash forward more than a quarter of a century, and speech recognition is almost effortless, both on your computers and your mobile devices.

I don’t think I could live without Siri, a pleasantly perky voice recognition system built into the iPhone. You can speak to Siri as if she’s a personal assistant or even a friend, and she translates commands and questions into actions easily and with amazing accuracy.

Siri has a number of competitors for many mobile platforms, all with their own specialties and weaknesses. On Android devices, the top personal assistant tools are Maluuba, Skyvi and the EVA/EVAN “twin” apps so you can choose a male or female personality.

Five Ways I Use Siri

  1. Magnificent Multitasking
    While I’m setting up a room before a presentation, I can plow through a few emails by dictating as I walk around.
  2. Safe Texting
    When I’m driving, I can send a quick text message using hands-free technology and Siri.
  3. Husband Pleasing
    My poor husband has to leave his favorite football games to pick me up at the airport. I simply ask Siri to tell me the score, and D.J. is happy(ish).
  4. Quick Calculating
    Siri often serves as my calculator when it’s too much of a pain to open the calculator app, or, heaven forbid, I try to do the math myself.
  5. Weather Reporting
    When I’m packing my bags for a speaking engagement, I’ll ask Siri for the weather report for the next city.

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  • I asked Siri to call the local Chinese restaurant, Hunan Treasure.
    “Shall I call you “Treasure?” she asks. I was laughing so hard she thought I said ,”yes.”
    Now Siri calls me “Treasure.”
    It makes me feel very special!

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