Siri Full Review, what Siri can and cannot do

If you’re reading this review of Siri then you probably know what Siri is. If you don’t, Siri is Apple’s new Personal Assistant that is available only on the iPhone 4S.

Siri is a voice to text system that allows you to naturally ask Siri a question and most of the time Siri responds with a good or suitable answer. If Siri can’t help then it will suggest that you perform a web search.

What you first have to understand with Siri is that it has a limited vocabulary of around 5,000 words. Although this is a lot in terms of a voice to text system, it’s not a lot when you think that the Oxford English Dictionary contains words for over 170,000.

Siri doesn’t respond well to multiple questions.
If you provide Siri with limited information, it then asks you a second question, and you answer the second question, it seems to treat it as a new question. e.g. ask Siri where 1 Infinite Loop is in California.

Mixing words and numbers doesn’t go down well with Siri
Ask Siri something like what is the full price of the iPhone 4S in the UK and it seems to get a little confused with what you actually said.

Likewise if you ask it where 4 Bloomsbury Square in London is, it doesn’t understand the number 4

Ask Siri where you are and how to get home
If you tell Siri you’re lost, it says it can’t provide any maps or directions in the UK. It can provide them in the US though.

Apple repeatedly lose their iPhone’s in bars, so I thought I’d ask Siri what to do in the event of finding a lost or stolen iPhone.
So it seems Apple things if you find a lost iPhone you want to have a number of meetings about it.


I decided to try Siri out to see what Siri knows about Christmas

Father’s day and Mother’s day
I quizzed Siri a week ago over when was Father’s day and Mother’s day. Although Siri came back with results, it came back with the US holidays and not UK holidays, even when using the UK voice.

Testing 1 week later Siri now doesn’t come back with any results on this question…

Siri can’t handle generic questions, it’s vocabulary isn’t wide enough
Siri simply cannot handle a generic question, although it will allow you to search the web.

First man on the moon?
Siri, who was the first man on the moon? Hmmmm, I don’t think so…

What Siri is good for?
Siri is spectacular at giving you people’s birthday’s. It can even create relationships, so if you ask it “When is mum’s birthday” it will lookup your mothers name and provide the birthday. That’s of course providing you have entered all the details in the contact record.

Siri is also good for finding out what appointments you have scheduled

Siri is also good at getting weather reports from Yahoo. Although sometimes Siri can get a little flustered, as though s/he has just been awoken from a deep sleep.

Likewise sometimes she can get the text completely wrong. I put this down to some beta bugs that need to be ironed out of the system at the server end.

Siri has been programmed to sometimes be vague or provide different answers to the same questions, e.g. in “What’s the meaning of life”.

Siri is great at playing music

Siri is great about finding out about products but isn’t quite as good at retrieving the latest news.

Sometimes Siri can get a bit pedantic and stuck in his/her way

What Siri will really get confused with is different meanings for a similar word. e.g. Soul (as in Soul Mate), Sole (as in fish)

So there you have it, Siri is still in beta so s/he will get some things wrong. If you really want to get the most out of Siri then try to use it on weather forecasts and anything to do with calendars or contacts on your iPhone. You can eve use Siri to create a reminder, although it will create it as a Task and not a reminder. I’m sure Apple can start to iron out some of these bugs and improve Siri. Although the UK voice for Siri was recorded about 5 years ago, and I suspect similarly other language voices may not be that new either.

Will Siri’s UK male voice be changed or will they have the same voice-over artist record additional strings? Ultimately it would be good to be able to choose a female voice for the UK. You can choose the US voice but then the amount of words it understands based on accent tend to drop percentage wise. I think Siri is a pretty good product as it stands already, it’s certainly better than the Android equivalent and hopefully will improve over time.