When Is It OK To Talk To Your Phone? An Etiquette Guide To Mobile Voice Recognition

Siri will mean a lot of us are talking on our phones, to our phones; a nation of Kirks, barking into communicators. So unless we lay down some ground rules, things are going to get very annoying, very quickly.

More: - Apple’s Siri Personal Assistant Only Runs On iPhone 4S - 5 Things We Can’t Wait To Say To Siri, Apple’s Virtual Assistant - Apple iPhone 4S: Everything You Need To Know

Should I use Siri on the plane, the train, or other forms of mass transit?


Should I bark orders to my phone during a meeting? Like, to send a company-wide email or set a meeting reminder, or something?

Only if you are leading the meeting. It will make you look authoritative, and alpha. It says that you obviously don't give a damn about how annoying it is to others in the room. And that's power.

That is, if it works.

If you end up having to repeat yourself, or if Siri doesn't get what you're saying, you're just going to look like a buffoon. So try it in private before you pull your power-play.

And if you're an underling? Keep it in your pocket, Junior.

Is it OK to ask my phone questions during sex?

I'm sorry. During sex? About what?

New positions, maybe? I don't know. It just seems sort of hot. It's kind of like having a three way with a robot. So can I talk to Siri during sex?

Yeah. So, do what you've got to do. I'm not going to judge. Your partner might.

Should I ask my phone for directions while I'm walking down the street?

Yes, but with a caveat. You should really stop walking first, maybe duck into a doorway or grab a seat on a bench. For one, it's sort of hazardous to be moving alongside the street without paying full attention to your surroundings. Also, people who walk around talking to themselves tend to either be crazy or pompous jerks. You don't want people to think you're either of those things.

I mean, hae you seen Apple's Siri video? You know the guy running along the Bay in San Francisco, ordering his phone to do stuff from him while he jogs? Don't be that guy. Everybody thinks that guy is a self-important jackass.

Should I talk to my phone in the movies?

What? How could you even possibly think that was okay? That is not OK. It's less OK than during sex, even. At least during sex you'll only be bothering one other person. Keep your damn mouth shut in the theatre.

But what if, like, some actor comes on and I can't place his name, can't I say "Siri, what other movies has the star of Drive been in?"

No. No, no, no. Dude, shut up.

Should I talk at Siri on the toilet?

Sure! Look, it's really gross and gauche to talk to another human while you're on the can. (I know you think nobody can tell, but we can tell. We can always tell.) But Siri is a honey badger in this regard; it just doesn't care. You could even ask Siri for a restaurant recommendation mid-poop and Siri won't find it at all weird or awkward.

But be warned: if you do this in a public bathroom, other people will think you are weird.

Using Siri to find a toilet during an emergency bathroom situation, however, is always completely acceptable.

Should I ask Siri questions at the table?

I get it. You want to know what the hell amaranth is before you order it. Me too. And I never want to ask the waiter because I don't want to look like a rube. And because I'm a dude. So, look, I feel you. It's hard being an ignorant dude at a restaurant! I know!

But don't do this. Don't talk to your phone at the table. This is why Larry and Sergei made Google. Use the appropriate tool at the appropriate time.

Should I use Siri in the car?

By all means! This is where Siri really shines. In the car, you shouldn't be using your eyes and hands to do anything other than drive. But if there are other people in the car with you, respect them. If it's a task they can do on their phones, let them.

And really, that's the bottom line. When you are having a conversation with your personal assistant robot, you are excluding all the human beings around you. And that's just sort of rude. Talk to Siri when you are alone. Use your keyboard around other people. The other people will be glad you did. And Siri? Siri doesn't give a crap.

User Manual is Gizmodo's guide to etiquette. It appears as if by magic every Friday.

Original photo of NY Subway by Mercurialn.



    I am so excited for Siri!

    This type of guide is so needed.

      I spent some time checking out Wolfram Alpha (the back end query engine for Siri). You really should be warned that Siri isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, and that's putting it mildly.

      In the case of "Siri, what other movies has the star of Drive been in?" You'll probably need to split questions like that into two. By the time you've asked two questions, you'd have been better off just using the IMDB app.

        Wolfram Alpha is not "the back end query engine for Siri" is simply one of a range of back ends it can use depending on the nature of the query the user asks. I'm sure Siri preprocesses your query to make it work as well as possible with each of them. So hopefully any splitting and so forth that may be required is done transparently for you ahead of time.

        How well it'll work in practice I don't know but it seems they have at least the foundation for a really intelligent system. I'm more worried about how well it'll handle Australian accents and figures of speech, that's been a real problem in previous VR systems.


          While we're at it, Nuance provides the speech to text engine.

          Hi David.
          Here's a background on Siri (even before Apple bought them) and Nuance, and Australian accents.

    Just like facetime... Useless. Has anyone ever used the current voice control?

      The point is, it isn't like the current voice control so using that as a metric is pointless.

      Facetime is only useless if you regularly deal with non-Apple users or have friends and family who don't use iPhones, and if that's the case then you have much bigger problems to worry about! ;-)

    i want a jarvis not siri

    Yeah, I can't see something like Siri being anything more than a curiosity. My car has voice control and about the only time I use it is to show it off when I have other people in the car for the first time. It was a lot of fun at first but you quickly realise it is just a wank.

    Should I use Siri in the car?

    Me: Siri, call John White.
    Siri: Calling 8294028592482
    Me: NO! Wrong number! *Tries to press cancel*

    Apple should be sued for false advertisement, they try to make out that they are the first to use two antennas, they created the first phone with voice control.

    As usual they take other peoples ideas (which I don't have a problem with) and try and pass them off as if they came up with this amazing new innovation.

    But they are certainly the best marketers, wow, I have wanted to move from my 3gs to an android phone for about a year now, and this makes me want a 4S, luckily the Nexuses are coming for android and I will make the right choice for me this time. (Though I still told my dad to get an iphone4 a few months ago, he wouldn't be able to handle anything more complicated than that ; D )

    That last woman in the Apple ad looks really uncomfortable using it. And then at the end she says 'send' and it looks like she just waited 2 seconds so she could say it. Surely it's easier to just hit send.

      You got that the last woman was blind right? So saying 'send' is going to be a lot more reliable than hitting a point on a flat featureless screen.

      And the delay is down to the video's director and editor. IMHO I think it's an intentional 'beat' so that whats going on sinks in.

      LMFAO she is blind.

    Yes apple takes other people's IDEAS.

    The only difference is that Apple actually make it happen while other companies don't.

    Me too I have some very cool ideas, however It doesn't mean that I own them.

    I'm just saying it's been on Android for a while now, it's not new stop acting like it is.

    This thread is pointless, the Samsung Galaxy SII has had this for months, people don't give a shit when I'm walking around saying, "Hi Galaxy, text John Smith, Where are you?" The technology works extremely well and is NOTHING new.

    I ask my phone to navigate me places, set memo's, call people, text message, update my Facebook, ALL done by voice.

    Honestly, Gizmodo needs to inform themselves before posting shit that will definitely piss people off through pure principle of ignorance.

    Thank you.

    I'm just going to go ahead and +1 myself. Good day sir.

    Was it absolutely necessary for you, Gizmodo, to focus this article specifically around Siri? Android has Voice Actions which work a treat, and there are other applications that (such as Vlingo Virtual Assistant) that have been around for a while that do some of this stuff as well. Now that 4S is on the way with Siri, it has to be all about the Apple product.

    Jeez Gizmodo, would you give your Apple arse licking a break once in a while?

    I'm unfamiliar with the capabilities of the Andriod equivalent of Siri.

    Can anyone fill me in on this?

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