With the advent of the iPhone 4S, many people are talking about its most noteworthy improvement: Siri, the almost human, voice recognition software that is integrated in many standard Apple apps.
Over the past week, we’ve seen a proliferation of blog posts talking about Siri’s offbeat responses to questions that fall outside the realm of “Where is the nearest restaurant.” For example, if you ask Siri to explain the meaning of life she’ll respond with “42.” If you ask Siri to describe what she is wearing, she’ll answer ”Aluminosilicate glass and stainless steal.” Siri is quirky and “in” on our jokes. She walks the fine line between human and computer and these amusing replies endear the user to the Siri software.
The question, however, is why? Why does Apple so willingly play to our more human side? What’s more, why would Apple invest money in developing these responses? Well, let’s think about how these witty responses reflect on the Apple brand. Apple is showing us that they have a sense of humor and that they’re willing to poke fun at their own software. They want to show us that they understand that Siri is only a computer incapable of true thought.
What’s more, Apple correctly guessed that these “cute” responses would earn them free, uncritical publicity. Instead of reviewing the software itself, it’s much easier for bloggers and news outlets to write a good-humored posts about these funny answers. (Read our review of Siri here.)
Smart move Apple. What’s next for Siri? How will the software continue to bridge the gap between human and software? Siri is currently labeled as “beta” technology, which likely means that these answers will improve and change over time. I’m betting that we’re not too far away from Siri software that learns the answers to users’ questions.
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