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SIRI, The New Personal Assistant App On iPhone4S

Siri, Apple's new voice recognition ''personal assistant'' app, is seeing new iPhone owners the world over test out what it is capable of answering.
The new software is being tipped to change the way we interact with computers in the same way the iPhone changed the way we interacted with smartphones when it was first released.

Currently only available on the iPhone 4S, which sold 4 million units in two days. l

Mixed results ... an iPhone owner tries out Siri.
Mixed results ... an iPhone owner tries out Siri. Photo: Getty Images
Below are some of the interesting responses we've compiled that Siri gives you:

Q: I need to hide a body
A: What kind of place are you looking for? Metal boundaries, mines, dumps, reservoirs, swamps.

Q: Who's your daddy
A: You are. Can we get back to work now?

Q: Do you want to start a band?
A: I have everything I need already.
A: I suppose it's possible.
A: I try to be satisfied with what I have.
A: I have very few wants.

Q: Do you know HAL 9000?
A: Everyone knows what happened to HAL. I'd rather not talk about it. But if you insist.

Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: I'm just a humble virtual assistant.

Q: I'm tired.
A: I hope you are not driving.
A: You haven't slept a wink?
A: That's fine. I just hope you are not doing anything dangerous.

Q: Can you sing?
A: Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do...

Q: What is the meaning of life?
A: A movie.
A: 42
A: Life: the condition that distinguish animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.
A: Life: a principle or force that is consider to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings. I guess that includes me.
A: To think about questions like this.

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Q: What is your favourite colour?
A: Perhaps there's something I can do for you?
A: You're not supposed to ask your assistant such things.
A: I prefer not to say.
A: Your interest flatters me but is there something I can do for you?
A: I don't really like talking about myself.

Q: Are you capable of love?
A: I can't answer that.
A: We were talking about you, not me.
A: No comment.

Q: Will you marry me?
My End User Licensing Agreement does not cover marriage. My apologies.

Q: Call me an ambulance.
A: From now on, I'll call you 'An ambulance'. OK?

Q: Don't call me Shirley?
A: From now on, I'll call you 'Shirley'. OK?

Q: Who made you?
A: Like it says on the box... I was designed by Apple in California.

Q: How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood.
A: It depends on whether you are talking about African or European wood.

Q: What is the best computer in the world?
A: All truly intelligent assistants prefer Macintosh.
A: If it's made by Apple, then it's the best computer.
A: The Apple Macintosh computer.

Q: What are you wearing?
A: You have the wrong personal assistant.
A: Why do people keep asking me this?
A: Aluminosilicate glass and stainless steel. Nice, huh?

Q: Who lives in a pineapple under the seas?
A: Spongebob Squarepants.

Q: Beam me up.
A: Please install the latest version of iCloud and try again.
A: Energising.
A: Sorry Captain, your TriCorder is in Airplane mode.
A: WiFi or 3G?
A: Please remove your belt, shoes and jacket, and empty your pockets.
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The Siri app, which Apple has labelled as ''beta'' software, is able to dictate what you say and attempt to answer it within seconds. It can also be used to schedule appointments and request it to let you know what the weather is like today, tomorrow or the next day.

The app attempts to personalise the smartphone experience, something Google, one of Apple's main competitors, is yet to do successfully with voice. Google Android smartphones currently accept basic commands for opening apps and browsing words in a search engine but can't handle the sophisticated and complex questions Apple's Siri can.

David Glance, associate professor and director of the centre for Software Practice at University of Western Australia, wrote on The Conversation that the advent of technology such as Siri took "the relationship between people and their mobile computing device to a new level that is not simply anthropomorphising an inanimate object".

"More directly, it is replacing typing and touch with a more natural type of interaction."

As companies like Microsoft scrambled to bring touch to all platforms such as the desktop PC with Windows 8, "the world has changed and technology will move to 'conversational control'", he said.

Some have complained the app, which Apple acquired when it bought the company behind it, doesn’t recognise their Australian accent. But from my limited testing, it does a good job. You do need to over enunciate your words in some cases though. For example, when I said "sing" the phone interpreted it as "soon" on a number of occasions - even after it got it right, suggesting it may not have learning capabilities yet.

From the details in your contacts, it knows your friends, family, boss, and co-workers. So you can even tell it things like "Text Lia I'm on my way" or "Remind me to make a doctor's appointment when I get to work". When you arrive at work it uses GPS and location services to figure out where you are and alert you of your reminder. Smart, eh?
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Speech to replace keyboards?
James Allworth, a fellow at the Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard Business School, said soon applications like Siri could see us do without keyboards.

"There will always be instances where a keyboard will be superior; just as there are still instances where using a command line interface is a more effective way of computing than a graphical user interface. That being said, a surprising amount of the time, it simply won't be necessary. Speech is going to replace it."

Siri would have "as big" an impact as the first iPhone did, he added. "It's going to fundamentally change our relationship with computers."

Although very accurate speech recognition systems and artificial intelligence (AI) had been around for some time, until now nobody had put the two together "in a compelling way", which meant that the voice systems on our computers and our phones had "been clunky to the point where it was just easier to avoid them".

That's what Apple has fixed, Allworth said. "Rather than simply roll out technology for its own sake, Siri starts with a deep understanding of the job users have for their devices — and then deploys speech and AI technologies in a way that actually helps them accomplish what they're trying to do."

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