The latest gadget to astound consumers is Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant built into Apple’s iPhone 4S. From setting a morning alarm to finding new recipes, Siri is designed to improve our ease and quality of life by simply speaking to her. But how does Siri measure up while we’re on the road?
I’ve had my iPhone 4S for a month now, and I’ll admit – Siri does have some helpful features to reduce distracted driving. For instance:
- She can read new text messages aloud, and can reply with a message I dictate back to her.
- She can pinpoint my location via my iPhone’s location service, and give me directions to my destination.
- She can inform me of traffic and weather conditions while I’m driving.
However, I have found Siri to be more of a hassle while driving than a helping hand.
- When asked about traffic conditions, Siri pulls up a map. This defeats the purpose of Siri allowing me to pay attention to the road; instead, I must look at this map, often needing to manipulate it in order to zoom in. Even then, she doesn’t give me actual traffic conditions; I have to look up the traffic report myself.
- Siri doesn’t dictate directions to me as a GPS navigator would. She pulls up text directions for me to read. I find myself just as distracted by reading these directions as I was when I had to look them up myself.
- In states with hands-free driving laws such as mine, Siri can get still get me into trouble. In order to activate Siri, you must either pick up your phone or hold down the home screen button. This action is enough to break the law. If I touch my phone, pick it up to ask Siri a question, or look at the information she provides, I am subject to a ticket and a major fine.
- The hands-free headset provided by Apple to use with Siri is a set of earphones with a microphone attached, making it very difficult to hear general traffic sounds. If horns are honking because of an impending accident, the earphones muffle the warning. To avoid this, I’d need to purchase a Bluetooth, which is expensive.
Overall, I’m very disappointed with Siri’s performance in the car. While she is helpful and entertaining for many other situations, as a driver, she crashes and burns.