Wright Light: Siri gives Apple smartphone a smart mouth
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
4/24/12 at 8:29 AM
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Original Print Headline: Conversing with Siri is a struggle
Originally, you were supposed to be reading about my learning how to ride a bike.
I set my alarm for 8 a.m. Saturday to attend a 10 o'clock class but woke up at 1:20 p.m. - oopsie.
Despite a crummy start, my weekend improved dramatically with a visit to Nellie's, where I met foreign exchange students Vivi from Taiwan and Elise from Norway.
While I was there, I finally met Siri - pronounced "SEAR-ee," not Suri, like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' daughter - on Nellie's iPhone 4S by Apple. So put down your cell and charge it, let's talk the old-fashioned way: Face to face and with our mouths, like the Amish do. Maybe we'll even have time to build a barn afterward.
Smartphone has smart mouth
For those of you who hear the word "apple" and still think of the fruit, Siri is a personal assistant who lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings and place phone calls, just about everything but launch missiles from a secret silo.
I introduced myself with a perky, "Hi, Siri! I'm Jason. How are you?"
Then she pops up with a list of Jasons from Nellie's phone.
"How are you?" I repeat.
"I'm fine, thanks for asking," she replies. I'm tickled, like one of Nellie's dogs just performed a trick or something worth photographing.
"May I ask you a few questions?"
"I don't know what you mean by, 'May I ask you a few questions,' " Siri said. Hmm ... I thought that was pretty plain, sorry.
"Nevermind," I said.
"So, are you male or female?"
"I'm not sure we have time for this, Nellie," Siri said. OK, first off, my name's Jason. Second, that was a smidgen surly. In fact, that oughta be her name: Surly for iPhone 4S.
I proceed with, "I am a reporter" - and I'm talking really loud and slow, like you do with elderly people or, embarrassingly enough, foreigners - "and would like to ask you some questions."
"I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean by," blah, blah, blah. That's her stock response to half the things I asked.
"What do you like to do?"
"This is about you, Nellie, not me."
That's when I laughed, to which Siri responded, "OK, how about a web search for 'personal burrito FFFFFFFF'?"
"Where are you from, Siri?" I asked, becoming a tad testy.
"I, Siri, was made by Apple in California."
"No," Elise piped up, "she's from Norway." Turns out the guy who invented Siri was Norwegian - and, perhaps, surly.
"Are you not from Norway?" I yell at her.
"Do you have something to hide, Siri?"
"Now, there's a good question," she replied. "Now, where were we?"
"You're evasive, Siri."
"You're certainly entitled to that opinion."
This went on for about 10 minutes until I started feeling sorry for Siri. I know that's not rational, but have you met me?
"I love you, Siri," I told her, feeling compelled to comfort the lonely, surly being in Nellie's phone.
"I hope you don't say that to those other mobile phones," she said.
"I don't, just you."
"I thought not."
Now, I'm thinking of getting an iPhone 4S, just to keep chatting with Siri. She may not be the best conversationalist, but maybe she'd at least be a second defense against missing a bike lesson.