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Tag Archives: Siri

Talking To Myself . . . Almost

Lately, I’ve been trying to use my iPhone’s voice recognition capabilities while in my car on the way to work. With the latest upgrade to iOS – I’m at 9.1 – you can now talk to your phone if it’s plugged into power, and I always plug mine into my car charger. All you have to do is say “Hey, Siri” and (most times) you’ll get a tone letting you know she’s listening. You can request music, ask for directions, record notes, tweets, and even Facebook posts. I mostly use it for playing music and recording thoughts I would never be able to remember or write down without pulling over to the side of the road. Although I have been known to do that, I don’t have to anymore. It’s not perfect, but it’s far and away a safer and easy-to-use method of remembering some things.

So, today I recorded a note on my way in. The only drawback is you have to speak fairly continuously. As soon as you pause for more than a couple of seconds, at most, Siri ends the task and reads the note back to you. I managed to make it through the thought I had with relative ease – my memory really ain’t what it used to be – and the playback was accurate enough to know I would be able to understand what I was thinking when I recorded it. As many of us are painfully aware, being able to understand what you were thinking when you were thinking of it later on when you read what you wrote about what you were thinking back then, is important to the efficacy of the effort.

On a whim, I said “Hey, Siri” and, upon hearing the familiar tone, “Thank you.” After a moment’s pause, she responded (in her Aussie accent) “You’re welcome.” Her tone was so upbeat it caused me to wonder if they don’t actually have the phrase recorded, or programmed, in several different intonations. I know we’re a long ways away from anything approaching sentient AI, but it was still oddly comforting, as well as a little weird . . . both the exchange and the reality I bothered to do it in the first place.

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In the Nick of Time, Siri to the Rescue

Siri

Siri to the rescue!

Siri may be far from perfect, but she is proving to be a boon for me. To be fair, my last phone was an Android (an LG Optimus, actually) and it not only was capable of voice recognition, it also had Swype.

Why this matters to me has to do with the onset of a common malady it turns out ran in my family and is now affecting me quite a bit. I’m talking about essential tremor, which can manifest in several ways; for me it’s in my hands, which sometimes shake rather uncontrollably. This can make it both uncomfortable and time consuming when typing a reasonably lengthy message on a small, smartphone keyboard. Eating with a fork or spoon can be pretty interesting as well.

I used Swype quite a bit on my LG, but the shaking still made it a bit difficult to spell correctly . . . or even choose the correct word when I was presented with choices. The reason I got rid of the Optimus, however, has to do with it having far less memory than I wanted in order for the phone to be truly useful. That is, as a smartphone . . . far more than just a mere telephone.

Even with a mere 16Gb, my new iPhone 4S allows me to have all the apps I need to stay current with my social media friends and platforms. It also allows me to take lots of pics and even use some photo editing apps to mess with them if I like.

So, I find myself using Siri more and more to save time. I still have to make frequent corrections, but I’m learning to speak a little more deliberately as well. I fully expect the technology to continue developing, hopefully to the point where she will even recognize vocal inflection and add exclamation points and question marks when warranted.

Thank you, Siri. Thank you voice recognition developers. You have made my life a lot easier.


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