Gay me up, Scotty

Siri

I fancied a cup of tea the other day. So, without further ado, and taking fully into account that I was a recently married man and therefore allowed to request such things from my better half, asked for one.

The method with which I did so was more Star Trek than Jim Royale. Rather than scratching my arse, leaning back in the chair and barking my orders, I picked up my new iPhone 4S and asked it to send my wife a text message. Hey, this is 2011, I thought. Using new technology to ask my wife to do something I could quite easily do myself makes it far less chauvinistic and almost acceptable. Classy, even. I was quite pleased with my decision to do so, I’m not going to beat around the bush. Perhaps I would single-handedly change social politics forever. It felt like a big moment. Game changing.

What was neither classy nor acceptable, however, was the resulting text message Lindsey received which read, ‘Can I have another pussy please?’.

Quite how it substituted the homely sound of ‘tea’ for the rather more guttural ‘pussy’ I have no idea. Needless to say, she wasn’t particularly impressed.

Realising I needed to salvage the situation and try to avoid an instant annulment, I decided to tell my wife how much I loved her. That would sort it out. And, again, I wouldn’t need spoken words. Technology was my new friend and my harnessing of both it and the art of love would render me the type of husband all blokes aspire to be. I’d probably end up on Wikipedia, or something.

Once again, I turned to my phone and gently asked it to send my loved one a brief but ever-lasting sentence which confirmed she meant the world to me.

I shouldn’t have.

‘I love your ex,’ read the resulting text.

In approximately 5 minutes I’d managed to paint myself as a chauvinistic, sex-demanding homosexual. And all thanks to my new phone.

Siri is the real culprit here. It is a voice recognition system like no other, if you believe the Apple hype. Rather than issue pre-defined, scripted orders, you can have conversations with it. ‘It knows what you mean,’ boasts their website.

Clearly, it doesn’t always know what you mean. Yes, it’ll tell me what the weather isn’t going to do tomorrow (I’ve never once read an iPhone weather report that can reliably predict the future), allow me to set timers and inform me of what meetings I have next Wednesday. But when it comes to text messaging, it just does not have a clue what I’m talking about. More worryingly, it appears to be constantly questioning my sexuality.

Take the other night, when I wanted to let Lindsey know I was running late on the way home from work. I asked it to tell her that very fact but, instead, it responded with, ‘Mark, do you want me to confirm that Steven White is your wife?’. Much sweaty-fingered fumbling and bashing of the ‘cancel’ button ensued. As I was driving at the time, this somewhat diminished the most obvious (only?) advantage of Siri – allowing you to send text messages whilst maintaining control of a motor vehicle. Instead, I almost confirmed I was married to a man I only know through weekly 5-a-side football and very nearly crashed legs-first into an elderly passer by. I never thought I’d do either of those things and certainly not at the same time.

In all fairness, Siri is clearly labeled as ‘beta’, which essentially means it isn’t ready for public consumption. This is unusual of Apple but shows how excited they are by the new feature which is, joking apart, pretty impressive. That said, it does seem that it’s early appearance is perhaps more intended to impress with it’s potential and, more often than not, amuse with it’s rather poor grasp of it’s master’s dialect.

Thankfully, I’m not alone in my Siri scrapes. At 11:30pm the other night, Lindsey attempted to push the capabilities of the software as far as I’d imagine they’re willing to go by asking, ‘What is on this season’s catwalk?’ I immediately chortled, suggesting it wouldn’t have a clue. My amusement was short lived, though – and not because it dutifully gave a Gok Wan-like run down of the colours and shapes we should all aspire to be wearing – no, because, in response, it proceeded to call someone else I occasionally play football with.

No 5

As dust bales roll through the digital streets of the once dense, sarcasm- and expletive-strewn jungle that is TheBoyEllis Blog, I can confirm that I am still alive. Postaweek2011 appears to have claimed its next victim (I’d imagine there’s been a fair few) after a heady month that was dominated by marriage, associated celebrations and the much-needed holidaying that follows.

Concerned I had little to write about, I thought I may have struck gold last week after our dealings with the housing market; firstly attempting to buy a new house from a builder via a part exchange scheme and, after that predictably failed miserably, deciding to put our house on the market and buy an older place. This sounded like perfect source material, until I realised I could only really muster one sentence describing the whole affair, which is:

No one in the housing market knows what they’re talking about.

And that’s not much of a blog, is it?

Yesterday, however, Apple rolled into town in all its grandiose, questionable statistic chomping glory and delivered the perfect excuse for me to pick up the digital pen once again.

I bought an iPhone 4 pretty much as soon as it came out. Because I’m stupid. But, in my defence, it was brilliant. The ‘retina’ screen looked like those fake photos of screens mobile phone shops place on the handsets in store, such was its vibrancy and crystal, seemingly pixel-free clarity. Only, it wasn’t a photo – it was actually the screen, which you could touch and watch respond. Just as when I first played with an iPhone, it felt like I was in Star Trek (being a child of the 80s, it doesn’t take a huge amount to get me excited).

Then, I, along with the millions who had also flocked to buy the precision engineered slice of metal and glass, attempted to make a phone call. This proved difficult because, as we were to find out, in order to make a successful call without the signal dropping, we had to hold the phone as though we were holding a piece of dog poo against our ear; a kind of ginger, two-fingered affair which ensured we didn’t accidentally create a bridge between two pieces of the ‘ground-breaking’ external antenna which must never be joined. If they become one, the result is a bit like when you cross lightsabre beams, only three million times more boring.

Apple then embarked on an uncharacteristic and creepily frantic attempt to prove that other phones do the exact same thing. Several videos appeared on their website of someone (Mr Jobs?) squeezing various models of Blackberrys and Android phones to prove that they too lose their signal when ‘held incorrectly’. Clearly realising that what they were doing was akin to a drunken ex-boyfriend bashing his genitalia against his former girlfriend’s front door in an attempt to prove it is as adequate as that by which it has been replaced, the videos were soon removed.

Steve Jobs even had to make an unscheduled stage appearance to make sure everyone was aware it was their own fault and not Apple’s. He did so in typically nonchalant style, although he did concede that they’d all had to stay past chucking out time on several occasions to work on a reasonable excuse.

This was all very irritating at first, but we all soon realised that this was an iPhone and, as such, its inadequacies as a phone (there are a number) do not matter. It is shiny and cool and Steve had quite clearly explained why we are all to blame. So, we stopped complaining and carried on playing with iFart.

Now, Apple have a new phone. With so many expecting the number 5 to make an appearance, it is no surprise that a collective sigh was exhaled after Apple simply added the letter ‘S’ to the end of the current product’s name.

Yes, now we have an iPhone 4S. It has the same A5 CPU that powers the iPad 2 and which will provide all of the unplayable first person shooter games on iOS with graphics that modern gaming consoles can only dream of. Web pages will open half a second quicker and the camera will no longer wait until Gaddafi has been captured, tried and beheaded before opening.

Ah, the camera. This is much better.  Once again managing to make fresh titfer out of old hat, 8MP stills and 1080P HD recording were the headlines, but Apple also went into minute detail about how they have achieved near-DSLR quality imagery with the addition of all manner of professional grade components and lenses.

After everyone had woken up, they went on to demonstrate Siri. This was their ‘just one other thing…’ moment. The bit we all wait for at Apple conferences.

Siri basically means you can talk to your phone and it will respond appropriately. Set tasks, reply to messages, find out how lunar space travel works. You name it – literally – and it’ll do it. The demo was, admittedly, very impressive.

Odd, then, that the only reason I can think I want an iPhone 4S is because it will finally allow me to replace my black iPhone 4 with a white one…