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Review: Siri on iPhone 4S: What would you do without it?

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last couple of months, or you’re just rocking an Android phone and couldn’t care less, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Siri.

Though the concept of voice commands are not in anyway new (Motorola and Samsung actually had voice commands in place within some of their phones for a while), Apple has indeed made it their own. This goes back to Apple’s ongoing take on all technology, “Let’s take existing technology, make it easier to use, more efficient, and practical for the everyday user.” As long as you don’t have a thick European accent (Oh wait, that was fixed in the last update!), and as long as you have some ability to enunciate, you will enjoy Siri.

By simply holding down the ‘Home’ button on your iPhone 4S, you will get a Ding sound, which is your cue to speak. You can ask Siri anything—and I mean anything—and she (or "he" in the UK - Ed) will do her best to comply. 

My First Days with Siri

Siri on iPhone 4S

I’ll admit, I fell for the hype and was quite excited to get into a conversation with Siri, as I broke in to my iPhone's sealed box. After waiting tirelessly for all of the syncing, setup, and other mortal nonsense, I was ready to have my first conversation with Siri. 

My first request was, “Remind me to write macProVideo article tomorrow at 4PM”. To my surprise, I got a voice response back saying, “I will remind you tomorrow at 4PM.” I smiled, and had this moment of realization: I finally have the assistant that I was always meant to have!

Over the next couple of days, especially when biking, or backpacking, I would hold down my headset button, that is on all Apple headsets, and dictate instructions to Siri. Some handy commands for this hands free are:

  • What song is playing?
  • Read my last text message
  • Play playlist
  • Text

In some cases, Siri performed with perfection. I mean, I literally almost had a tear in my eye from the joy I experienced in having a private assistant. When text messaging worked, especially when I was driving, I was safe, and far from the driving disaster I’ve been in the past while manually texting... Yeah, yeah, you do it, too.

There were other times where I found myself thinking, “Siri, what the hell is wrong with you?” This occurred most regularly when I was trying to get Siri to play one of my custom playlists and I couldn’t remember the name of the playlist. She simply wouldn’t play a playlist, I’d have to dig out my phone, etc. 

I tended to find Siri most helpful around the house. I’d say, “Set the timer for 10 minutes” to remind me to check on what I had in the oven. Or, I’d say, “Wake me up in 2 hours.” Yep, I’m a napper, and found this totally invaluable. 

The Dark Side of Siri

Siri definitely does have a dark sense of humor. Tell her that you love her, she’ll respond with “I don’t think of you that way.” Or, something along those lines. It’s cute, and very Apple, in the sense that you have a very functional personality hidden within circuitry and microchips (all hail the singularity). 

However, the dark side of Siri I’m referring to isn’t necessarily her personality. My main frustration was when I was having cell phone coverage issues based on my location, and discovered that if you don’t have network, you don’t have Siri.

Bottom Line: Siri is here to stay, and I’ll say that she is very helpful, when she works. It’s easy to get addicted to her assistance, and she’s happy to perform...

... as long as you have network access!

It is my hope that this network dependency will be rectified in an update, where there is at least a streamlined set of commands available even when in airplane mode, etc. After all, Apple, later on you’re going to want Siri in iPods, etc. Don’t you want the kids to get to know her, too?

G.W. Childs IV

G.W. Childs IV | Articles by this author

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like LucasArts, Lucasfilm, Propellerheads, Cakewalk, Midway, MTV. With all of these exciting companies he's either worked as an editor, or sound designer, even sometimes as an actor. G.W. is currently working as an author for Cengage Publishing. He has written the titles 'Creating Music and Sound for Video Games', 'Rewire: Skill Pack', and 'Using Reason on Stage: Skill Pack'. As a musician G.W. has played for years in the band Soil & Eclipse on COP International Records. Additionally, he's worked as a remix artist for acts like Gene Loves Jezebel, Ray Charles, James Brown, Chiazm, Razed in Black, and more.


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