Until recently, the daily integration of voice recognition applications existed only in science fiction. Then came Siri, Apple’s famous attempt to invent its own voice recognition environment and bring it to the masses. It’s a great start, but Siri isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and most of us can see that voice recognition has a long way to go before it’s really ready for prime time.
Those of us brave enough to venture into the gaudy and pretentious world of voice recognition may end up viewing the functionality as more of a party trick than a serious application. This is obviously Apple’s fault. Siri has been programmed for years to answer funny questions with cutesy repartee. That’s what we hear about from our friends. Ask Siri where to hide a body and you’ll get a coy answer, but what does that tell us about the seriousness of the app, or anything about its real power?
To make matters worse, Apple hasn’t done a very good job helping us use Siri. They love to suggest things to ask or tell the application but have chosen not to publish a complete list of Siri commands. Perhaps they want to avoid the perception of Siri appearing dumb or robotic in the sense that it can answer only a finite group of specific, simple questions? That would be a problem for Apple, since that perception would lead many to assume that using Siri was a waste of time. If it’s not smart enough to understand most questions or commands, then what’s the point?
Nevertheless, the Siri app is here to stay and while weak in terms of overall functionality, the app already does have a number of very useful features. One major area where Siri excels is in dictation. If you take the time to learn the dictation commands Siri offers, you’ll probably have a much faster and easier experience creating some documents, emails and text messages. Here’s a list of dictation commands that work with Siri:
And here’s a very comprehensive list of other Siri commands you might actually find useful. Some of them, like setting a timer to monitor your boiled egg or even your parking meter time, might actually become habitual after you try them once or twice.
Eventually voice recognition will be more like mobile computing is today. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. But until the day when voice recognition is mainstream, fully featured and easy to learn, the links above should give you something useful to play with.