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IPhone 4s can talk, Siri friend or foe?

by Andrew Scott

Technology is on the march at such a heady rate these days, I barley have the chance to blink at a new gadget, before something else has come along to make it obsolete. Think about all those things that hadn’t been invented when you were a kid that you wanted, now think about how many of them pretty much have been, electric cars, humanoid robots, 3D TV, video calls, ad infinitum.

To be honest think of all those things you thought about 10 years ago, like, wouldn’t it be great if you could stream TV programmes to your computer. Or wouldn’t it be great if your phone had a colour screen. Never mind touch screen, never mind multiple touch screen, never mind cameras and high-speed internet and GPS and social networks. Technology fires along at such a rate we are rarely amazed by it anymore, more likely we’ll be disappointed that it doesn’t work quite as well as it did in Star Wars.

Meanwhile, Apple have just released the newest version of their game changing devices, the iPhone. This release, the 4S, is the fifth in the line of iPhone updates since its first release back in 2007. I remember when I first had the chance to play around with one and it seemed like some kind of witchcraft, its intuitive touchscreen interface was a joy to behold.

This newest release didn’t at first seem to have that wow factor, it had a faster processor and a better camera along with the other “197 incremental changes” that apple had boasted about, but there wasn’t really much to write home about. Or was there?

Siri, is a voice recognition app for the IPhone, it is described as a digital personal assistant for your phone that can help you find things and do things. Voice recognition technology is not exactly new and the Siri app itself was available for free back in February 2010 before it was snapped up by Apple and incorporated into their 4S release. Have a look at Apples promotional video below.

Personally I think Siri has the potential to be another paradigm shifting moment in the way that we interact with our technology, just as the multi-touch screen was for the first iPhone.

At the moment it may appear somewhat gimmicky and being able to call people from your contacts by voice command is hardly innovative, but some of the more sci-fi capabilities like getting it to set a timer or an alarm, the capacity for you to almost have a conversation with it regarding what the weather will be like or where you could go to dinner, are all rather impressive.

What I think is most important though, is that unlike advancements in touchscreens or other physical interfaces, the ability to simply be able to talk to your phone, will bring a new emotional element to the way that we interact with our gadgets. After all talking is our most intuitive way to communicate, having technology that can hear what you say and talk back to you is bound to make our machines seem much more human like.

Ultimately, when our devices start to blur the line between man and machine, that’s surely something that should make us feel a little in awe, or a little freaked out, depending on how many nightmares Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey gave you.

Are you impressed by Siri? Do you think in time voice commands will become the default way of controlling many of our digital devices? Tell me what you think in the comments section below!

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