Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Would Siri Say Calendar

For the holidays, my daughter got me a desktop calendar.

Other than the somewhat antiquated mode of a desktop calendar (which I find I still have this cool Star Wars calendar from 2006 hanging on my wall that I have almost never looked at), I was really looking forward to this one.  I did enjoy the gift, but it's one of those things you wouldn't know unless you open it up -- or read about it.

Many may be familiar with Siri - Apple's female assistant app that is built in to iPhones and iPod Touches (is it on iPad yet?).  Siri is not merely a voice command app (find this, text that), but it is a more advanced assistant that you can interact with, have conversations with - and is somewhat witty.  Of course, because of this design, many have picked on it for speed (Google's search is faster - because that's all it does is search).  It does of course have limitations - after all, it is not Human, and does not really understand what you ask of it.  However, it does quite well, and comes in extremely handy in a limited set of situations.

Enter the calendar.  I'm sure, due to the popularity of the iPhone, and Siri, that this publisher (whoever they are, they are not identified on the calendar) thought they could make a quick buck by putting it out there.  Unfortunately, it seems that the questions they put on the calendar are not vetted properly.  They seem to be one of three types: one (the rare type) - show off a feature of Siri, two (slightly less rare) evokes a witty response, and three (very common) - show where Siri falls short and has to resort to a web search or an incorrect answer.

For example, "Which side of the plate does the fork go" is not a Wolfram search, and so is not integrated into Siri.  It gives a web search - big whoop, that's most of the things they have.  Also, "Why are Solo cups red" turns into a misunderstanding of red to mean "read" - OK, to some degree it's great to point out limitations in the product.  However, misunderstanding these stupid homophones in the English language is tough for people, let alone computers.  That's totally stupid.

A few gems: "Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street," and especially "Who's going to win the Superbowl" on the day after the game.

All in all, I was sorely disappointed - what I was expecting would be things that get Siri to give a witty response ("Take me to your leader."  "I thought you were my leader."), but instead it seemed to be a daily stab at what Siri can't do, or can't do well.

Thanks, Rachel, it's the thought that counts.  I still do enjoy trying it out.

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