With Siri and voice recognition you can avoid a lot of typing by dictating. It works very well most of the time. When it doesn’t, it’s typically because you’re tired and run your words together. To get the most out of Siri’s voice recognition, here are a couple of guidelines:
- Use the built in microphone.
Why? During testing of Siri Apple figured out why voice recognition generally failed – noise suppression and spatial listening. Therefore they built in two mic’s to improve the recognition process. So, don’t use a wired or bluetooth headset when dictating.
- Use Wifi.
The actual voice recognition happens in the cloud… not on the phone. When you’re having a sketchy connection to the cloud and the recognition suffers. This often is why you can say exactly the same thing twice and get different results when you’re on 3G. So, best advice is to turn on Wifi when possible for perfect recognition.
- Think about punctuation.
When dictating on your iPhone or iPad, you need to start thinking in punctuation. For example, you might say, “Sara comma new paragraph What do you think about having dinner together tomorrow question mark I just found the perfect sushi spot period new paragraph Let me know what you think exclamation point.” The feature understands when you are requesting punctuation or a new paragraph, and translates that into the text. You can dictate text messages, email messages, entries in the Notes app, Web searches, and more.
Apple announced in June that iOS 6 will bring the Siri personal assistant software to Apple’s third-generation iPad. Previously, the new third-generation iPad launched only with voice dictation and Siri was only available on the iPhone 4S. But with iOS 6, users of the new iPad will also be able to use Siri.
In a 9to5 Mac article, Mark Gurman reports that the iPad version of Siri will support all functions except phone dialing capabilities.
With the iPad being a device that is larger than the iPhone, the product typically sits farther away from the user’s mouth. Because of this, some speculators of Siri for iPad have believed that the device’s microphone would be unable to properly hear, and therefore incorrectly interpret, command inputs. Sources, however, dismissed this as nonsense, and these sources say that commands input with same or similar accuracy to the iPhone 4S. iPad voice dictation appears to work well for third-generation iPad users.
A great way to simplify working with Siri, is to tell it about your relationships. Teaching Siri relationships allows you say things like:”call my wife”, “text my sister” or “where is my mother?”.
So, how does Siri know who is who in your Address Book? Adding these relationships to your contacts is pretty straightforward and can be done in many ways.
Here is How to add relationships to Siri:
- Just say to Siri who they are: “my mother is Susan” or “Mike is my brother”. Siri will bring up a message asking to confirm the relationship before it’s entered in your Contacts.
- Alternatively, add them while doing other tasks. If you say “call my wife” before establishing that relationship, Siri will ask you who your wife is.
- Or, add relationships through Contacts: go to your own contact card (create one if you haven’t done this yet) and click Add Field > Related People
What if you want to find and modify these relationships? Here is how to change or delete relationships:
- Go to your own contact card in Contacts, click Edit, and change or remove the relationships you want
Once you’ve got some relationships defined, this enables cool things like:
Text my wife that I’m running 30 minutes late
Note that you best sync your contacts with iCloud, since Exchange only supports a few kinds of relationships.
Using Siri to get notes into your Evernote account is pretty straightforward, perfect for when you’re driving, jogging or just not in the typing mood.
- First – if you haven’t done it already – add a contact in your address book with the first name ‘Ever’, last name ‘Note’ and your incoming Evernote email address. (if needed add the email by going into Evernote > Settings > Evernote email address). This was the hardest part.
- Now, to create a note: launch Siri and say “Mail Note”
- Next, dictate your email and send it off. The message will show up in your default notebook.
You can even take notes in one sentence: just say “Mail Note. List of presents to buy.” and Siri will send that note into your account.
How do you find out if Siri is not working or if there are problems with the servers where Apple’s Siri is running on? Well, that’s easy, here is the status message that you will see when something is wrong with Siri:
My mind is going… I can feel it. I can feel it.
To some people this might sound a bit mysterious, but it’s one of the many references to HAL 9000 from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic Computer) 9000 is an artificial intelligence and the onboard computer on the spaceship Discovery 1. HAL 9000, more commonly called “Hal”, became operational in the HAL plant in Urbana, Illinois, on January 12, 1992. His first instructor was Dr. Chandra. Hal is capable of many functions, such as speech, speech recognition, facial recognition, lip reading, interpreting emotions, expressing emotions, and chess, in addition to maintaining all systems on Discovery. (source)
The above message is a direct reference to the moment when HAL9000 is ‘dying’. In the film, HAL’s central core is depicted as a crawlspace full of brightly lit computer modules mounted in arrays from which they can be inserted or removed. Bowman shuts down HAL by removing modules from service one by one; as he does so, HAL’s consciousness degrades.
I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a… fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it I can sing it for you.
It’s a surprisingly powerful death scene, ‘unearthly’ moving with the obvious peculiarity of feeling sympathy for a computer.
Watch the clip of HAL’s final moments here.
“Do you think it will snow today” Siri responds: “It sure looks like snow today”
Apple just released a new Siri TV Ad. Just like the first one, it shows people talking to Siri on their iPhone 4S, asking questions and Siri responding to them:
What’s my day look like?” Siri responds “Not bad … only two meetings today:” and displays the two appointments … “Can I walk to the Belvedere hotel from here?” Siri responds “Here are directions to Belvedere hotel” and launches the Maps application with the directions … “Read me that text” Siri responds by reading the new message … “Do you think it will snow today” Siri responds: “It sure looks like snow today” and displays the weather forecast.
One caveat to Siri is that it requires an active internet connection. This is important to those of us that have capped data plans and must keep a close eye on their iPhone usage. For each task that Siri is used for, your voice data is sent up to Apple’s data centers for processing, even when the task you’re performing normally doesn’t require any network connectivity. Although potentially this could force you over your monthly data quota with your cell carrier, recent testing of Apple’s new voice control service has found that it uses just a small amount of data each time. Jacqui Cheng of ArsTechnica conducted some tests and concluded that Siri consumes just a small bit of bandwidth for most users. For example, someone using Siri 20 times per day would use a total of less than 40MB in one month for the service:
If you use Siri 2-3 times per day at an average of 63KB per instance, you might expect to use 126KB to 189KB per day, or 3.7 to 5.5MB per month. For 4-6 times a day, that might come out to 252KB to 378KB per day, or 7.4 to 11MB per month. If you use it 10-15 times per day, you might end up using 630KB to 945KB per day, or 18.5 to 27.7MB per month.
These numbers are more general ranges than exact numbers. Your own usage will be different depending on how wordy you are, the kinds of queries you’re making and how often you use Siri.
Developer Troughton-Smith has managed to get Siri fully working on an iPhone 4. Even without the dual core A5 chip, Siri appears to run smoothly sfter the hack and Troughton-Smith said that it runs as fast on iPhone 4 as it does on iPhone 4S.
The above video by 9to5mac shows Siri working on an iPhone 4 and shows a side-to-side comparison against the iPhone 4S. Siri was also ported to the iPod Touch, though it has some problems due to the lesser quality of the microphone, but Siri itself runs flawlessly.
First there are the rumors that Apple is working on a television, with ‘prototypes and parts floating around a guaranteed product’. In his bio, Jobs tells Isaacson:
I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.
Nick Bilton on the New York Times claims that this is hinting at integration of Siri:
Alternative remote ideas floated by Apple included a wireless keyboard and mouse, or using an iPod, iPhone or iPad as a remote. None of these concepts worked. But there was one “I finally cracked it” moment, when Apple realized you could just talk to your television.
It’s the stuff of science fiction. You sit on your couch and rather than fumble with several remotes or use hand gestures, you simply talk: “Put on the last episode of Gossip Girl.” “Play the local news headlines.” “Play some Coldplay music videos.” Siri does the rest.
Interesting thought, but the actual look and feel of ‘Siri on your TV’ might be very different from how it’s imagined here. We all know how capable Apple is in thinking differently.