Siri Dissed By Windows Phone, Android Chiefs - InformationWeek

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Mobile // Mobile Devices
11:08 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry

Siri Dissed By Windows Phone, Android Chiefs

Rival platform leaders say Apple's iPhone 4S digital assistant is no big deal, but maybe it's because they don't offer it yet.

Apple's new iPhone 4S comes with a number of upgrades, most of which are available to iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 owners via an iOS 5 upgrade. The digital voice assistant, known as Siri, is only available on the 4S and is pitched as the flagship new feature. The heads of Windows Phone and Android, though, are questioning the value of such a service.

Voice commands are nothing new, though it has gotten better in recent years. Picking up your phone and saying "Call Jane on mobile" is much quicker than finding Jane in the contact list and tapping on the mobile number. Siri is much different, passing much more complex human speech to Apple's servers to for it to interpret, find an answer and send it back down to the user's phone. Now you can say "Where is the nearest pizza parlor" and chances are you'll get back a useful answer.

Google VP of mobile Andy Rubin disagrees with the concept of using your phone as an assistant. "Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn't be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone."

I honestly don't get that at all. What is the difference in asking verbally for info versus typing it in? Do you think guys in the 60s dissed the keyboard because you should be using punch cards to communicate with computers, not typing to them?

Microsoft's president of Windows Phone Andy Lees thinks Windows Phone 7.5 has a better implementation of voice. With WP7, you can speak to Bing, but it's really not as rich as Siri. Siri uses multiple services to get your answer. In the pizza parlor example above, not only will you get directions, you may also get a Yelp rating, which may save you walking two blocks to get to a dump rated one star.

In both cases, this seems to pull one from the classic Palm handbook. If you don't have it, talk it down by saying it isn't needed or has been done wrong. You can bet, though, that as speech technology on the two platforms gets better, it will suddenly be praised by their leaders.

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User Rank: Apprentice
10/27/2011 | 7:41:48 PM
re: Siri Dissed By Windows Phone, Android Chiefs
Why is voice important? Much easier in the car, where without voice a solo driver can't safely look for a nearby restaurant without pulling over. How about for the blind? The elderly whose arthritis can make it difficult to type on regular devices, let alone mobile devices? Even a pedestrian moving rapidly through a crowd, whose head should not be glued to a small device? Used wisely Siri can be a game changer. That will become more true as more apps build in voice capability.

Ed you are 100% right if either Android or Windows Mobile leapfrogs Apple in this regard, suddely voice recognition will be a critical feature. Heck, Microsoft may even give their cuddly new assistant a name too. Let's hope they don't call him Bob.

As for the truly inane comment about not communicating with your phone the only alternative to communicating with the phone is to use it as a paperweight or a doorstop. Works great as a mirror in a pinch too. Moronic statement, truly. In fact, asking Siri to find a nearby restaurant and letting the whole group hear her answers is a much quicker and less intrusive communication than me typing on an itty bitty keyboard (physical or screen) and squinting at the results. After efficiently figuring out where we are going I can communicate with the humans walking next to me. You know, make eye contact, gesture, talk and listen, no wireless or wires. THAT'S communication.

So instead of being jerks, score one for Apple, go out and leapfrog them. We all benefit when you guys play leapfrog.
User Rank: Apprentice
10/24/2011 | 7:08:13 PM
re: Siri Dissed By Windows Phone, Android Chiefs
"Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn't be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone."

I have to agree, that is a stupid comment. Google search by voice is handy. It is subset of what Siri does (or maybe an example as I don't know what all Siri can do search for.

Where ever the phone can make life easier, the better. As long as that functionality does not cost an arm and a leg.
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