It’s scary how good of an iPhone app Siri Assistant (free) really is. With roots in SRI’s CALO Project, America’s largest Artificial Intelligence research project and the beneficiary of $150 million investment, Siri Assistant claims to bring simplicity to your life, along with ushering in a new wave of the Internet. I believe it.
Called a “do-engine” rather than a “search engine” by its developers, Siri is so functional it might replace several of your other iPhone apps. Need to book a table for Valentine’s day? Want to buy movie tickets? Need a taxi? Just ask Siri by typing your query or speaking it into the bottom of the iPhone. When possible, instead of simply generating a list of search results for your question or task, Siri actually displays embedded forms from one of its partners (including OpenTable and MovieTickets) for you to easily make a reservation or make a purchase through Siri itself. Its voice recognition is powered by Nuance, and it’s the best I’ve come across yet. Only one of my voice commands came back incorrect, and you don’t have to shorten your questions as you might when typing a query in Google—just talk to Siri like you would a person. (Don’t forget to ask Siri if it’s having a nice day.)
Built-in search parameters can help you find things you didn’t know you were looking for, and Siri’s reliance on your GPS locations means that it displays the nearest things first (if you want). You can add businesses to a favorites list and add personal notes for your own reference.
But Siri does more than just grab results off the Internet. You can instruct Siri to send you reminder emails to pick up milk, pay a bill or anything else at a scheduled time. And, the more you use Siri, the smarter it will get, learning your preferences to tailor its search results.
Because of Siri’s voice recognition, it does not support iPod Touch. Other Siri reviews will have you believe that the iPhone app only works on iPhone 3GS, which isn’t quite accurate. Siri is optimized for iPhone 3GS’s more powerful processor, but it runs on my now-archaic 3G just fine. However, I was unable to install Siri via the iPhone App Store, but after downloading the app in the iTunes App Store and syncing my phone, there was no issue.
Siri Assistant is the start of something new and powerful, and I’d recommend jumping on this technology while it’s still free.