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.