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I personally find it to be quite useful, but you have to adapt to it and figure out what it's good at. I use Siri for:

1. Setting location-based alerts using Find My Friends. Saying "tell me when my wife leaves work" is effective, convenient, and about twenty times faster than setting up the alert by hand.

2. Again with Find My Friends, finding out where people are. If I'm meeting somebody I can just ask, "Where's Bob?" and it shows me, so I know if they're running late or whatever.

3. Setting reminders, especially location-based reminders. As I'm walking along, I suddenly remember that I need to fix the windshield wipers on my car or something. "Remind me to fix the windshield wipers when I get home", and done. Again, way faster than setting this up by hand.

4. Quick text messages while on the go. It can both read an incoming message and write a reply. Faster than typing a reply, usually.

5. Setting timers and alarms. Put a pizza in the oven, then "timer, 15 minutes", and I get an alert when it's done.

I don't think the article is wrong, but it's a bit narrow. It concentrates entirely on search, and I agree that Siri is pretty weak with that. But Siri is good at doing stuff, at least certain stuff, on your behalf. Google's voice search can't do this on iOS at all, and my understanding is that even on Android its capabilities are much more limited.

Siri is probably over-hyped by Apple, but i personally still find it to be quite useful. It's not the all-powerful personal answer-machine that some people want it to be, but it's a handy alternate UI for many of the phone's functions.

> even on Android its capabilities are much more limited.

That's not true - in fact, Android has had functionality far beyond Siri's for ages - since FroYo at least if not Eclair or Donut - long before Siri came out. Even Engadget (of all sites!) did a comparison of the two and declared that Android's voice functionality was better.

On top of that, the new (ICS or JB) updates are really fantastic, particularly when you pair them with Google Now.

I take it that Google's page for this stuff is incomplete? http://www.google.com/mobile/voice-actions/

Is there a place with a more complete listing of what it can do?

What a great comment. I didn't know that most of these use cases worked. Thanks!

There lies one of it's biggest flaws: poor discovery.

I once sat down for a few hours and asked it tons of random questions and got a good feel for what it can and cannot answer/do. After that, it became a lot more useful to me. But most people don't seem to do that.

You can just ask it, "What can I say?" or similar and it will come up with a big list. Although I don't know how you can discover that feature... bit of a chicken-and-egg there.

I recently got an iPhone 5 (been using the 4 for about 2 years now) and it came up with the big list the first time I held the home button to use it, so that functionality is not hidden.

There is also the (i) button on the screen that you can tap. It shouldn't be hard for anyone to find, though I guess it must be?

Yeah I'm aware, but that list is not comprehensive, and doesn't do much to spark the imagination.

Here is a FULL LIST OF SIRI COMMANDS I learned a few tricks from:


(Though it looks like this list was missing Find Friends related options.)

I think that's just the contents of the "i" button.

Pardon my ignorance as I have never used a smart phone ... you are saying Bob publishes his location to you, and you can check it at any time? I must be getting old because that sounds terrible.

There's an optional Find My Friends app which lets you check peoples' location at any time. You have to explicitly request it and they have to explicitly authorize it. You can also set up temporary events for e.g. visits to family so that you can keep track of each other temporarily but then have it expire.

I personally find it to be incredibly useful for meeting friends and such. Of course, if you don't like it, you don't have to use it.

Terrible for whom? Recalling of course that both parties consented to the idea.

I find it (or rather, Google Latitude) AWESOME. One, it's awesome for rendezvouses. Both the planned kind (I arrive first, she's not here yet, where is she, maybe I could walk a block and meet her first) and the unplanned kind (sometimes I find out my wife is downtown when I didn't expect her to be... hi honey!).

Two, I'm still tracking friends back home even though I don't live near them any more. It emphasizes the community in the world. It'd be better if more people used Latitude, though.

"sometimes I find out my wife is downtown when I didn't expect her to be... hi honey!"

Some people will find that terrible in itself, but even if you don't, there are unintended consequences. Suppose she is out there buying you a surprise present. You catch here with the present in hand; she is disappointed that you found out about it. So, next time, she switches off the 'find me' feature. You see she switched it off, and either think 'she is trying to surprise me', in which case half the surprise is gone, or worse, 'what is she hiding?'.

> "Some people will find that terrible in itself"

Right, and if they do find it terrible, they don't use the software. It's not rocket surgery.

> "What is she hiding"?

Please, I'm not a sitcom character.

To attempt to address the apparently spirit of your concern, of course there are unintended consequences (to anything). The important question is whether the net effect is "terrible" (GP's impression), "awesome" (my experience), or somewhere in between. It seems to me that the main differentiator is what relative value you (and the close friends who would be candidates for sharing location data) put on secrecy (among those close friends) vs information (about those close friends). And I am reporting that in my life, I have yet to experience any downside, I've experienced plenty of upside, and some of the upsides have been awesome.

I would certainly be horrified and angry if Google turned this feature on by default, or if user locations were published to people they hadn't consented to, or something like that.

> what relative value you ... put on secrecy ... vs information

For the last time, privacy is not about secrecy, and it is not a battle against information. It's about dignity. It's great people get value out of these features, but do understand that to those who have not assimilated into this new culture, the idea that having to dawdle in uncertainty for 10-15 minutes while you wait for your wife to meet you downtown is some burden is ... crazy!

I thought mobile phones were supposed to solve that problem anyway. It seems nobody's content enough to agree on a meeting and patiently wait for their company anymore. Either that or they are worry-warts, or just plain distrusting. I find these new values very difficult to relate to, as I cannot imagine another reason for tracking your companion like they're a specimen of some endangered species.

I'm not sure what to say to this besides, I don't know, try harder to understand other people's points of view, if you want to. Or don't, it doesn't much matter to me, although I don't see the point of popping up in these discussions otherwise.

The app "Find my Friends" allows users to accept requests to be added to someone's FMF contact list, which allows the person who added them to ping their phone at any time to find their location. It's pretty privacy breaching, but I only have 3 people added who I trust very much, and to whom it is useful.

I use Google Latitude to share my location with my girlfriend. As another poster points out, it's really handy when we're meeting somewhere and trying to figure out how long until the other arrives.

Practically it means the only people I could ever use this with would be my close family, and even then it's creepy.

I really only use Siri while driving, but there it is amazing. "How long until I arrive at my destination?", "I need gas", "play song X", things that are helpful without taking attention away from the road. I understand some higher end cars come with that functionality from the factory already, but I'm just a poor farmer, so it is amazing to have in an affordable device from my perspective.

I often wonder if Siri, and the new maps, is ultimately intended as a play for Apple to enter the automotive space in a big way. Perhaps as a hedge against Android/Google Driverless Car integration?

>5. Setting timers and alarms. Put a pizza in the oven, then "timer, 15 minutes", and I get an alert when it's done.

Funny thing is that there are timers, alarms, AND reminders. All with different quirks.

* Timers: "Set timer for 10 minutes." Ignore the mute switch, but you can only have one at a time.

* Alarms: "Set alarm for 10 minutes." Ignore the mute switch, but don't get cleaned up automatically.

* Reminders: "Set a reminder for 10 minutes". Prompts for subject. Muted by mute switch. Require confirmation.

It's very odd from a naive perspective that the same basic commands works so differently due to slightly different wording.

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