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iPhone App Spotlight: Siri

Siri The


The "personal assistant" app that was so good at finding anything nearby simply by speaking to it, Apple bought it up.

iPhone App Review: Siri

Price: FREE

Producer: Siri Inc.

The Lowdown: Siri claims that it will be "your personal assistant" -- and that's not too far from the truth. The app acts as though its a personal information booth wherever you go. With features like built-in voice search, local results, a wide variety of outside sources and the simple ability to understand how we as people speak, Siri helps answer most questions you throw at it about the area you're in.

Pros: Siri works almost as if it comes from Apple itself (irony later on). It's an app with a clean, spaced-out interface that tries not to bother the user too often with monotonous pop-ups. Using the app is as simple as asking a question like "Where can I grab some pizza?" or "What's going on nearby?" Siri will get right on most questions, offering reviews where possible, directions, tickets and seating availability. Putting it simply -- the app will answer almost any questions that pertain to the area around it. And for those like me who don't have a microphone on their iPod Touch, Siri allows you to type questions in and offers the same experience. It takes a while to find out what Siri can't do, easily making this one of Mr. Jobs' ideal "killer apps."

Cons: Depending on the device, Siri can be shaky. The company's website notes that the app works for iPod Touch and the iPhone 3GS, but makes no mention of the earlier iPhone 3G nor the new iPhone 4. Limiting such an app to a single device is not a good business strategy in any field. Speed can be an issue with Siri as well, especially on older iPods. Even on a strong Wi-Fi connection, Siri takes about 10-20 seconds to get results back, where the iPhone 3GS takes a few seconds. Also, Siri has a lot of untapped potential -- Google searching, voice commands, etc. -- that could have been added, but remain mysteriously missing. Without those parts, it feels like the wheels are missing from a beautiful car.

The Verdict: Siri Inc. was bought out by Apple Inc. earlier this year and hasn't seen an update since. Common sense says either Apple will incorporate the Siri capabilities into its iOS systems of the future or make Siri its own (possibly paid) app. With that said, I'd suggest grabbing Siri while you can -- especially if there's a trip to unfamilar territory in you future. The app has its flaws, but is quite useful.



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