60-Second Tech

iPhone 4S Assistant Siri Does Her Beta Best

Siri, the new iPhone 4S personal assistant, is a step closer to a keyboard-free future. Larry Greenemeier reports

One of the most talked about features on Apple's new iPhone 4S is Siri. It's also one of the most talked to features. That's because Siri is a virtual personal assistant that answers your spoken questions.

Jason Snell, editorial director of Macworld, previewed Siri last month in a YouTube video. Snell asks Siri a straightforward question: "Where can I have lunch?" Siri uses the iPhone's GPS to answer: "I found 14 restaurants whose reviews mention lunch, 12 of them are are fairly close to you."

Then Snell throws Siri a curveball: "How about downtown?" Siri has a little trouble with this one: "I don't know what you mean by, 'How about downtown.'"

Snell's assessment: "Sometimes the Siri software figures out what you mean and it's kind of like magic, and other times it doesn't really work that well. I think this may be one of the reasons why Apple called this a beta."

Siri for the most part doesn't get sarcasm, but it is programmed with a sense of humor. "Open the pod bay doors." "We intelligent agents will never live that down."

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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