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The evolution of Siri, we assess Siri's school report

Joey Evans | Sept. 25, 2013
As Siri steps out of beta in iOS 7 we look back at Apple's voice assistant to see just how much he/or she has changed over the years

Apple iPhones

Apple's voice-recognition based personal assistant Siri has been in beta for the last two years, and has remained as such until the recent launch of iOS 7. Although voice recognition software itself has been around for some time, it has not been developed effectively to the extent where it can be applied to practical, everyday use, until very recently. Now, with the advent of iOS 7, what features can Siri users expect, and how much has changed from the apps first appearance on the iPhone 4s, a whole two long years ago?

Subsequent to Apple's purchase of the start-up voice recognition software company SIRI in 2009, for $120m, Apple would go on to implement a voice operated ease of access system to the iPhone's (and subsequently the new iPad's) internal content. This web-based application could provide access to information on the internet through Safari, locate places of interest on Maps, conveniently set reminders and dates, and instantly message and call your contacts. All of this can be conducted via a simple voice command - albeit to a slightly pompous sounding automated service.

With obvious benefits to those with limited motor function, or impaired sight, Siri's original release on the 4s offered an alternative to the original iPhone 3g voice command service, and it has been celebrated as a humorous and efficient extension of the 'voice' of Apple itself.

Besides the app's usefulness and functionality, Apple has also insisted that Siri includes a personal identification directive, which eventually becomes more familiar to the users voice over time. Apple want to give Siri personality too, and as a result, the service comes packed with Easter-eggs, such as the vastly web-documented number of jokes and anecdotes to ask it, and is now in a position where it can personally belittle the competition, such as Google Glass.

Siri's problem years
Sadly, Siri has not had a seamless transition out of beta. The app has repeatedly come under fire for misguided and underequipped responses, and in the last two years, Apple has been privy to legal disputes over Siri's shortfalls and teething troubles.

With the initial release on iOS 5, users found that beside the novelty of knock-knock jokes, and the ability to find out arbitrary information like: "What's the weather like tomorrow in Paris, France?", and despite the fact that the automated assistant had a good level of familiarity with the other apps on the device, it could not provide directions, and replied with a foggy answer that required an unbearably long wait to process.

Inadequare 3G data connections may have been in part responsible for some of these long-winded response times, as the cellular data provision itself was still fairly new, but it was mostly as a result of the assistant's inability to interpret dialectal and the cognitive inflections and phrasing. In the US, some users had begun legal proceedings with Apple, feeling they had been mis-sold the product, and this was largely due to Apple's allegedly reprehensible marketing strategies, which at the time the Wall Street Journal labelled as: "(a) misleading and deceptive message." Worldwide, people were claiming the adverts made requests made Siri look effortless, and exaggerated the capabilities of the product.


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