Siri isn't quite everything we hoped it would be. Laptop Magazine's Mark Spoonauer has some ideas on how to transform Siri from novelty to utility. Here are eight ways to make Siri Smarter...
For me, the beauty of Siri on the iPhone 4S isn't her ability to answer pretty much anything on Jeopardy! — though my eight-year-old is fascinated by all the things she knows that Daddy doesn't. It's this voice-powered assistant's ability to minimise the number of steps or taps it takes to get things done, whether it's setting an alarm or finding a place to eat. With iOS 6 reportedly right around the corner, I wanted to voice my own wish list for adding to Siri's talents. And if Google or Samsung want to use my ideas to beef up Voice Actions or S Voice for the Galaxy S III, that's fine, too.
Siri Gets Social
"What's Becky up to?" Saying this to Siri would invite her to fetch the latest updates your friend has posted to Facebook and Twitter and present them on a single screen. From there, you could have Siri read these updates aloud, which is great if you're in the car.
Just as importantly, you could also tweet or create Facebook updates from the main Siri screen using just your voice. I can't tell you how many times I've thought about something I've wanted to say on Facebook while walking the dog only to forget it when I came back into the house. Maybe Siri can help with my short-term memory.
Instant Photo Tagging
Wouldn't it be nice if you fired up the camera on the iPhone and said "Jake's birthday", and then it created a sub-folder of photos automatically categorised with this title? During the rest of that session, the camera would automatically add pics to this folder until you said something like "end session".
Don't worry if you forget to do all this during shooting; you could organise images into folders after the fact by selecting multiple thumbnails and then speaking the folder name. I'd also love it if the camera let you add captions to photos using your voice, which would make it easier to send them off to Facebook.
Settings Made Simpler
It's not really hard to tweak settings in iOS, but it would be nice to be able to turn aeroplane mode on or off just by barking the command. And while Apple is at it, why not enable Siri to let us toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth or even "Turn off 4G" when we want to save battery life. Throwing in a "Lower brightness halfway" or "Set screen time-out to 'never'" would also be useful.
App Intelligence: Siri Synergy
Given the rumours that Apple will release Siri APIs with iOS 6, this wish list item sounds like it's a lock. But I still can't wait for it happen. "See if Le Bernadin has any reservations open for three people at 10 o'clock." "Who's winning the Yankees game?" "What's the lowest price you can find me for a flight to San Francisco June 11?" "Sell my Facebook stock!" These are just some of the scenarios that are possible once Apple lets app developers like OpenTable, ESPN, Kayak and E*TRADE tap into Siri's brain. Forgive me for being greedy, but I'd also love to be able to say "Favorite this song" or "Ban this track" while listening to Pandora or Slacker.
Let's say your iPhone was running low on juice. Normally, you might tweak multiple settings separately. But with a smarter Siri, you could say "Save my battery life" and iOS would automatically tweak multiple settings, such as lowering the brightness and turning off Bluetooth and perhaps Location.
Here's another example. "I'm in a meeting. Only let Honey through." Siri will automatically mute the ringer and not even buzz your pocket unless your wife calls. Or how about "Delete any emails from Bob Thompson" or "Update all my apps, but delete 'Angry Birds Space.' I'm over it."
Speak to AirPlay
I appreciate the fact that the AirPlay icon automatically lights up when I walk into my abode and get within range of Apple TV. But I bet a lot more people beam stuff to their big screen if Siri got involved, and she knew where to fetch the content. "Hey, Siri, play the trailer for 'Dark Knight Rises' on Apple TV" Or how about "Play slideshow from Jake's birthday with my Party mix on Apple TV."
In the first instance, Siri would know to grab the clip from YouTube, start playing it and stream it to your big screen. And in the second example, she'd be intelligent enough to open the appropriate photo gallery and then set it to the correct iTunes playlist on your HDTV. Hey, it could happen.
Out of the Office
There's nothing more annoying than putting work into telling people you're going to be out of the office when you should be enjoying every moment you're on holidays. So tell Siri that "I'll be out of the office from July 18 to July 25." She'll then create an automatic out-of-the-office message that will show up both in outgoing emails (that you can amend) and mark off your calendar with the right dates for everyone else to see. If you come back from vacation early, just say "holiday over".
iTunes on Steroids
Imagine if Siri knew everything in Apple's vast media library and could not only help you find what you're looking for, but download it instantly. For instance, you could say "Get the season finale of House." And even if you didn't know what you were looking for, Siri would help you narrow your search. "Siri, what's the first book in the 50 Shades series?"
How about something a little more complicated? Tell Siri "subscribe to The New Yorker and LAPTOP Magazine" and it would sign you up for both titles in Apple's Newsstand and present you with a total before you say "Buy". Last but not least, it would be cool if you could say something like "Get 'Somebody That I Used to Know' and make it my ringtone."
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