Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making Siri Useful

I'm getting more value from Siri lately. I think it's partly the enhanced noise canceling of the iPhone 5, though that may have other problems.

The trick, of course, is that I'm getting trained to use Siri. Even in my post-50 state of degeneracy, I'm a quicker study that Siri (though she does seem to be learning my voice).

I mostly use Siri to create reminders, notes, appointments or text messages while driving. This means I can't look at the screen or touch the screen; in fact the screen is usually locked. In this use case this is what helps:
  • Assign relationship names (wife, etc) in Contacts. Siri cannot recognize my wife's name even with phonetic additions and multiple experiments, but she does recognize "Wife". You can do this in Contacts on OS X or even iOS, or you can tell Google directly (ex: "Steven F___ is my brother")
  • Tell Siri which Contact is "You". This is very important.
  • Train Siri at home (make test requests and correct errors)
  • Think of what I want to say (plan it out).
  • Turn off the fan (and radio of course) in my van before speaking a command.
  • Press Home button and raise phone from flat horizontal towards my face then sharp pivot to my right ear (seems to help activate Siri on a locked phone). If wearing a headset, any headset, press and hold the 'call' button.
  • Wait for the initial tone.
  • Say what I want ("Remind me in 1 hour", "Take a note", "Make an Appointment at 9pm", "iMessage My Wife".)
  • Wait for the tone.
  • Speak in a measured steady pace with a brief "pause" between words (these pauses are perceptual, not usually real). 
  • Use punctuation. It really helps to say 'period' when I'm done.
  • After I speak, wait quietly while Siri decides I'm done.
  • Use the critical words: Change and Cancel as needed. (Example: Change, or Change the ___ to...)
Incidentally, the iOS voice recognition is phenomenal. Siri is nowhere near as good, but of course the Google app isn't integrated with my iPhone. I assume it will eventually be integrated with Google's web services, but it will likely never work when an iOS screen is locked.

See also:

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