Siri, the voice recognition software on the iPhone 4S, has sass, as Apple engineers add fun to functionality to give the device an edge over rival phones.
An Apple engineer said the company knowingly gave Siri attitude while adapting it for the iPhone 4S, lending the handset a personality of its own.
Apple bought out Siri, a Stanford Research Institute start-up, in April 2010. The company’s software used speech recognition technology to interpret and find information online, saying it “gets smarter” over time by using artificial intelligence to deliver better search results.
But the engineer told the Wall Street Journal Apple wanted Siri to have even more edge, adding to the phone’s “light attitude” while keeping the core of the engine “friendly and humble.”
Their additions have given the software, unique to the iPhone 4S, a more conversational quality that makes the new smartphone a lot more fun for many users. Siri can not only tell people where the great restaurants are, but also turn down marriage proposals and respond to requests for hiding a body — in other words, it almost converses.
The unnamed engineer said Apple’s goal was to have software that answered like a real person would.
“We thought of it almost as a person on the phone,” he said, explaining the programming choices.
While giving Siri personality, the engineers also likely injected some of their own personalities into the answers. The software answers questions about the meaning of life by quoting from the “Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy,” and gives pop culture answers to weighty questions such as the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
In years past, many of Apple’s machines had a sense of humor that included inside references, such as digs at Apple Records, which sued the computer company over the use of its name. This time around, the humor isn’t so obscure, so that anyone with an iPhone 4S can get funny responses to their questions.
Users are becoming more friendly with Siri, which may also help add to Apple’s ad revenues, as local advertisers become able to target their campaigns based on location. The software also gives business rankings, meaning those personalized ratings may find use as marketing tool to attract business.
Siri is an often-funny addition for the iPhone 4S, but Apple is likely taking her potential for increasing revenues very seriously.