Some quick comments on using Siri in practice—for things other than asking it to open the pod bay doors. Siri’s voice recognition is very impressive, and the scope of what it understands is very good given the difficulty of what it’s doing. But it has a lot of trouble with certain sorts of proper names, and certain kinds of contexts.
On the first issue, take Irish names, for example, which are completely intuitive to someone with a bit of a blas, but admittedly are often not spelled in the way a naive English speaker would pronounce them. For example there are a lot of people in Ireland named “Aoife”. It’s a very popular girl’s name, and it is of course pronounced “Eee-fah”. As you might expect, Siri can’t handle it at all. That’s a difficult case, but there are a lot of other similarly tricky names in the world, and not just Irish-origin ones. Failure to recognize names really messes up the ability to ask certain questions (e.g. about birthdays), tell Siri about network ties (e.g. who is my daughter), or set appointments with specific people. I doubt users will long tolerate being forced to systematically mispronounce their own or their spouse’s name in order to set up meetings, for example.
On the second issue, Siri’s handling of contextual meanings is very strong in some ways, but not in others. Some real world examples, the good and bad, based on a morning’s worth of use:
Again, it’s basically very impressive. But I guess the question is how fast Siri will improve at interpretation, and how willing users will be to take the time to self-censor or carefully craft both event names and questions about events that they know Siri will understand.
 Update: Charles Starrett suggested using the phonetic first and last name fields in contacts, which Voice Control can apparently take advantage of. I tried this but it didn’t seem to have any effect on Siri.All Categories
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