It's time to get Siri-ously mobile
“Send a message to my wife saying I’ll be late, please.”
“Is your wife’s name Susan?”
“OK, sending Susan a message to her mobile.”
Who wouldn’t want to be cruising down Sheikh Zayed Road while telling your personal assistant to let the other half know you’re running late, check movie times and get you a dinner reservation for two at the nearest Italian restaurant serving Mascarpone Strawberry Cupcakes?
Meanwhile, you can also ask said PA to send a work email or two while you’re stuck in traffic, check the latest football scores, tweet your thoughts - and update your facebook status.
Because if you get an iPhone 5, due out later this year, it will possible to have your very own assistant travelling with you 24/7.
Apple is changing the way humans interact with electronic devices. Again.
The Jobs legacy has launched a new feature for Siri called ‘Eyes Free’. This feature in iOS 6 allows you to talk to Siri (Apple’s voice assistant) while you are in the driving seat. The iPhone maker is working with several manufacturers on adding a voice command button for Siri on the steering wheel so drivers can ask her questions, make calls, hear and compose text messages and even use maps and get directions - without taking their eyes off the road.
Best of all, when an iOS 6 device is locked in ‘Eyes Free’ mode, the device’s screen won’t even distractingly light up.
A jibe at existing ‘hands free’ technology of course, ‘Eyes Free’ is being framed as a safety booster. And while safety advocates applaud efforts to pull the phone away from drivers, some are not sure whether the system can actually change the attitude towards driving-related accidents due to mobile device-related
“I have mixed emotions about this technology,” says Lesley Cully, founder of ‘Buckle Up In The Back’ - a campaign to encourage UAE residents to wear seatbelts.
“It’s definitely an amazing technology for those who can’t seem to live a second without using their phones - even if it means while driving.
“So if this is what they use instead, it’s possibly a good alternative.”
However, most high-end vehicles already have Bluetooth installed - and yet you see drivers continuing to text and use their handsets while they’re on the road.
Cully adds: “If they’re not using existing, available technology - why will they use Eyes Free? If people are that lazy, I don’t trust that they will use it.”
And there’s the question of whether Siri is actually a useful tool.
Voice control remains, for the most part, comically bad - as parodied in many a movie - and rarely used in real life so far, says Cully.
“Sometimes what it responds with is just gobbledygook.
“And then you just say ‘never mind’ and give up,” she adds laughing.
Taking it way more personally, Dubai-based sales manager Mohammed Younis insists: “She [Siri] doesn’t like me.”
“She won’t pick up my accent. It’s a bit annoying,” says Younis, who originally hails from Egypt.
Over the next 12 months, Apple hopes its engineers can conquer Siri’s apparent Egyptian-accent phobia. And the firm promises that General Motors, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar-Land Rover, Audi, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda will all offer Siri integration.
The real test, of course, will be out on the road. All eyes on Siri.
SWITCH GEARS TO TECH FOR SAFE DRIVING
>> Phone-abstinence is law when driving - and yet 57,000 motorists were caught using their mobile phones while driving on UAE roads in 2011.
>> Research says the distraction caused by mobile phone use when driving results in a cognitive impairment equivalent to a .08 blood alcohol level.
>> The fine for using your mobile phone while driving is Dhs200 and four black points as per the UAE federal traffic law.
LOOKING FORWARD TO IPHONE 5
Apple has just unveiled a ‘guided access’ feature for iOS 6 that will allow adults to lock children within individual applications by disabling the device’s physical home button and the ability to travel back out of an application.
Do you own anything that plugs into an Apple device? Tough luck - its days are numbered. Rumour has it that Apple is working on a new 19-pin adapter for the iPhone 5, replacing the old 30 pin connector the company has used since the third generation iPod.