October 14, 2011

Testing the new iPhone 4s.

Here's a photo I took today:



Can I get it to take me Siri-ously? Not yet. It doesn't seem to understand a thing I ask, other than what time is it. It can't understand the question "What's the temperature?" And when I asked about the Milwaukee-Muskegon ferry, it started opening a Face Time connection — i.e., a video phone call — with a person who happens to be in my contacts whom I only know slightly!

After a number of reasonable questions that were answered "No match found," I asked: Are the Brewers going to win tonight? The answer was: "Playing songs by Rufus Wainwright." The song "California" (from my iTunes) started playing.

Ridiculous!

ADDED: I said: "Play the new episode of Rush Limbaugh." (Note: I have downloaded the podcast of today's Rush Limbaugh show.) It answered: "Playing songs by the Lovin' Spoonful."

UPDATE: The phone seems to have figured out my apparently distinctive approach to mumbling and bumbling through the English language. Let's repeat the question: "Play the new episode of Rush Limbaugh." Ah! It understands the question now, but says it can't find Rush Limbaugh "in your music." Ha ha. Not everyone understands the "music" of Rush Limbaugh. You need a good ear for... fill in the blank. I rephrase the question: "Find the new podcast of Rush Limbaugh." It says "Here's your Rush Limbaugh" — which sounds like something someone might say while making an obscene gesture — and starts playing the new podcast!

66 comments:

John Lynch said...

Maybe it's programmed only to understand San Fransisco yuppies.

James said...

Judging by the feature list I may have to break down and buy an Apple product; but I doubt it will understand my accent.

ALH said...

I sure hope the Rufus Wainright, but the Cards will be tough to beat.

MarkG said...

There's the good marketing and then there's the actual state-of-the-art.

When I got the first iPhone back in the day, it would auto-fill in email "Good Mor..." as Good Mormon, when I really wanted to say Good Morning. WTF? Who ever says "Good Mormon?"

Paddy O said...

From Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: "He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. The way it functioned was very interesting. When the Drink button was pressed it made an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject's taste buds, a spectroscopic examination of the subject's metabolism and then sent tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centers of the subject's brain to see what was likely to go down well. However, no one knew quite why it did this because it invariably delivered a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea."

Paddy O said...

I think you're underestimating the sophistication of the iPhone 4s. We all know that language is often defective in comparison to our actual wants, let alone our actual needs.

The iPhone 4s clearly has the capability to interpret the depth of meaning behind your verbal symbology. It provides not what you ask for, but what you truly need in order to satisfy your subconscious existentialist demands.

The iPhone 4s, it's more than a smartphone, it's a phenomenological prophet.

bagoh20 said...

This purchase reminds me of something.

Lem said...

Ask it whats Cain's 999.

Steve in Philly said...

Bot time, bummer is a pity!

poppa india said...

MarkG: "Who ever says Good Mormon? Not J.

poppa india said...

Insert " where needed.

Mitochondri-Allie said...

Rush LImbaugh, Lovin' Spoonful, oh that's a good one. iPhone4, maybe Paddy O is on to something, it senses your deep seated desires?

Lem said...

Can I get it to take me Siri-ously? Not yet. It doesn't seem to understand a thing I ask, other than what time is it.

Obama the boyfriend reportedly way ahead of iPhone 4s in the Althouse sweepstakes.

edutcher said...

Remember when you used a phone to just talk to people?

rhhardin said...

Rufus Wainright's mom is good, musicwise.

Most voice recognition systems connect you with a human operator when they can't figure out what you're saying.

Use that to bypass phone trees and get in contact with a human operator.

Say nonsense syllables.

Lem said...

I downloaded a new version of the OS yesterday for my iPod touch.. it took for ever.

rhhardin said...

Commands to my dog start with her name.

That may be your trouble.

It thinks you're just making conversation.

rhhardin said...

Surely a phone has a call name.

Lem said...

Surely a phone has a call name.

Dont call it surely.

Lem said...

tHe professor is going to need an iPhone 4s is like Obama tag.

Ron said...

It sounds more clever than most commentators!

Maguro said...

Who ever says "Good Mormon?"

Not J, thst's for sure.

Coketown said...

The initial reviews raved about how accurate and incredible Siri was. But most of the recent reviews testing Siri in the real world, outside of Apple's closed keynote demonstration environment, say it's clumsy, gimmicky, and altogether of very little use. Which is a shame, because it seemed like Apple would finally be the company to nail speech recognition.

Looks like another "Eat up Martha" moment.

Carol_Herman said...

Asking a telephone a question, reminds me of the day we had human operators, you could dial.

Mort Sahl once called them and asked them where he had put his clean shirts.

Which he put down after bringing them back from the laundry.

The telephone company used to advertise that you could always as the "operator."

So he did.

You want too much from your telephone.

Malesch Morocco said...

If you take the milwaukee-Muskegon ferry, drive north to Manistee and visit the birthplace of Issob Morocco. I will be your guide!

Malesch morocco

deborah said...

So is there an ap to train it to recognize your voice? Like show you pictures and you name them?

Tea Party at Perrysburg said...

Mine works perfectly!!! I asked it to text and call and it did!

Now I can fulfill the terms of my agreement as a protester....occupythecouch.org.

I won't even have to lift a finger.

Anonymous said...

Prof. You are the expert gadget woman. One day NYT will ask you to run its technology section. Keep it up. I did not get 4S as I got 4 this spring. Yikes!

NB: Everyone in the Campaign to Re-elect the POTUS team has a new iPhone. It is loaded with cash and so it is natural. The GOP campaign teams are cash-starved. Huntsman is off after this month. Only Perry will survive we hope. (I think Obama team is afraid of Romney. But that will never happen in GOP, right)?

MadisonMan said...

Why isn't the whole phone book loaded into each iPhone?

radar said...

Either you post-processed that image or it is a photograph of a painting.

Calypso Facto said...

Phone book, MadisonMan? Have you checked the high chair?

Anga2010 said...

Ambient noise has always been the biggest problem with the voice recognition software.
I did a lot of experimenting with the VOS in the mid 90's and it always came down to what noise the computers and printers were making at the moment.

doofus said...

One of the problems seems to be that most of the back-end recognition is done at computing centers that Apple runs. As a result, Siri won't work at all if you don't have a network connection. In addition I am betting that the servers are absolutely HAMMERED right now, as everyone is trying out their new voice toy.

David

fivewheels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fivewheels said...

Apple cultists think it's brilliant and futuristic and uberhip to ask your phone what time it is.

I glance at my watch.

Maguro said...

Brewers kicking the ball around tonight. This isn't soccer, boys.

John Lynch said...

I glance at my phone.

Lem said...

The Brewers look like they could use a beer.

Lem said...

Weeks made a strong play..

bagoh20 said...

Rather than one that listens, what I could really use would be a phone that would talk for me. You know, like that small talk at parties, or when people call and you're kind of busy reading some blog.

There could be apps for dirty talk during sex. I never quite felt confident with that. Maybe one to do job interviews, or to call Mom and talk because she needs that regular, and I don't really have anything to say.

You could have one to argue that same shit again with your wife. Just record it and play when needed. It's gonna end the same way every time anyhow.

Beldar said...

You need to adjust your iPhone's "Just Messin' with Ya" setting, Prof. Althouse. Yours is obviously still positioned at the highest setting, "Complete Smart-Ass."

Roger Zimmerman said...

Here are some hints to get the speech recognition to work (IAAASRE (I am an automatic speech recognition engineer), though I did not work on the Siri technology.):

- Speak naturally, but clearly, and directly into the microphone. Don't overemphasize words. The models have been trained on lucid, but "normal" speech.
- As other have said, you just need to be away from background noise, especially impulsive noise (as opposed to steady state low-level noise) and REALLY ESPECIALLY background speech and music. The algorithms are just not good at differentiating between your voice and these other sounds. If you're driving in anything but a luxury car with very good noise reduction technology and/or if your radio is playing or people are talking, you're SOL.
- I'm 95% certain the models will adapt to your voice. Your phone sends ID information along with the audio, and they can update the models to learn your speaking patterns and style. So, be a little patient, and it will probably get better.

Good luck.

gadfly said...

"And when I asked about the Milwaukee-Muskeegon ferry, it started opening a Face Time connection . . ."

Probably telling you that "If you can't spell Muskegon, I ain't cooperating."

Lem said...

Brauns chance here

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Hmmph. I like this new 8-ball. It is decidedly so.

Lem said...

Fielder common do some damage

Carol_Herman said...

The phone "does" wide-angle!

Did you have to hold the phone sideways?

Chris said...

Oh Althouse, you're exactly what Dead Steve Jobs was looking for when they came out with the new iPhone: A sucker.

My Galaxy S II blows this away. Leave it to Apple to introduce an already-obsolete device.

Fred4Pres said...

Steve Jobs died just in time.

Epic Apple Fail.

caseym54 said...

See The Big Bang Theory folks for a similar critique.

Jana said...

My Siri seems to be working OK. I know the network is getting slammed today, since everyone is undoubtedly fooling around with their Siri at the same time.

I asked it to text my husband and it did fine. Call husband, that too. Where the nearest Starbucks is, and where the nearest mall is (I'm not super creative, I guess). Play Ben Folds!

I was particularly excited to be able to easily text/call people from the road, so I'm pretty happy with this upgrade.

Chip Ahoy said...

The file name must read "rush limbaugh" in order for Siri to match. Otherwise vocalize the name of the MP3 file. Probably something like RL101411.mp3.

This reminds me of my mother and my dog. The dog jumped on the sofa, Mum said, "Tina, get down." Tina obeyed. She dropped into the down position but she stayed on the sofa even though Mum was not her trainer. It happened Mum uttered the precise command that works: the dog's name, the single-word clear command.

Mum said, "Tina, I said, get DOWN!" Tina dug her little doggie elbows deeper into the sofa.

Mum said, "DOWN!" The dog dug her nose into her paws trying to be further down into the cushions. Then Mum looked at me and said, "That dog of yours doesn't listen at all."

Me: "Tina." *ears perk* "Get off the sofa." The dog jumps to floor and immediately sits alertly awaiting her next instruction. It's a bit Nazi-like actually, when you see it. A bit frightening, the dog is black, after all. In fact, her down command was so fierce that she was in the down position before the word is pronounced. We could not do this on hard surface because I feared she'd crack her elbows, but she sure was fun to practice on grass or on carpet.

Ann Althouse said...

"Probably telling you that "If you can't spell Muskegon, I ain't cooperating.""

I can spell it, but I have a bad attitude about Michigan.

Robert Cook said...

I am midway through my 2 year contract and on iPhone 4, so I didn't upgrade, but I did install the new version of iOS. GREAT upgrade!

As for Siri, I have the original standalone app on my phone, downloaded when it first came out. I haven't used it much, but after seeing the demo of the new "baked in" Siri, I played with it and, while it doesn't speak to you but only presents speech bubbles onscreen, it works VERY VERY much like what they showed, and it works well. Unfortunately, as of tomorrow, Apple will disable that app, as Siri is now officially 4S "only."

As for any Android phone anyone wants to talk about...I'm sure some are okay, even good, but the couple of different Android phones I've played seem to lack just what Apple strives for: simple and smooth user experience. In short, they're not nearly so intuitive or straightforward to use. If I wanted to ditch iPhone and iOS, my preference would be for a WebOS phone...but they're all moribund at this point, as WebOS itself might soon be. A pity. Lacking Web OS, I would pick a Windows phone over Android, which just seems like a clunky copy of iOS. Windows phone OS at least seems original and well-designed.

Republican said...

● Reply hazy, try again
● Ask again later
● Better not tell you now
● Cannot predict now
● Concentrate and ask again

Chip Ahoy said...

iPhone 4s test in five frames.

Curious George said...

A peek inside the R&D behind theiPhone 4s

DADvocate said...

The new iPhones are programmed to understand the accent and dialect of the people in the region in which it was sold. As a non-native Wisconsinite, the phone doesn't understand you because you don't sound like the Swedish chef.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY_Yf4zz-yo

Moose said...

You're saying it wrong.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

Thanks for this post.

I like knowing what I can expect when they ship mine (supposedly in a week or so--I don't get mine immediately because I didn't place the order until the tenth).

Anywho, thanks for the heads-up re the phone's ineffectiveness resulting from wine box induced slurring. I don't partake in such myself, but good info anyway.

xnar said...

Say: "Play shocking meaat video" and it will bring up the Allan Brothers web site.

America's Politico said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig said...

I own a hundred shares of Eastman Kodak. Any takers?

Michael Haz said...

What if Siri was just a practical joke played on Apple groupies by a dying Steve Jobs?

LarryTheOlder said...

I'm to receive my iPhone 4s in a few weeks. I read there are several "Easter Eggs" in Siri. One is to ask her, "Open the pod bay doors" and she replies, "I'm sorry Joshua, I'm afraid I can't do that."
Siri

Bryant Likes said...

You don't happen to have a scottish accent do you?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BncDeMO_en0