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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Siri: Smart, sly, and sarcastic

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Who is Siri?

Who is Suri Cruise?

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Who is yo' mama?

Siri quickly has emerged as the most talked-about feature on the iPhone 4S. Part personal assistant, part encyclopedia, and part friend, Siri follows your commands and attempts to deliver information when you need it. I spent quality time with Siri during my second day with Sprint's iPhone 4S and asked her a long list of questions. I tried to stump her, and I succeeded at times, but she also surprised me with the range of factoids that she keeps stored away. And like I said, she's got an attitude.


When I first used Siri the day the iPhone 4 was announced, she wasn't able to come up with the capital of Canada. Since she interfaces with Wikipedia, I was surprised not to get an answer, but she did reply correctly when I used another iPhone 4S just over a week later. So, good for her.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
She knows a lot about history. Indeed, I never would have guessed correctly.
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She also knows her geography.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German/CNET
She's a dictionary.
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And she's a math whiz.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
When you ask for distances to a city in the United States, Suri answers with not only the mileage but also directions in Google Maps. At this time, however, she is unable to offer mileage to cities outside the U.S. If you ask for the distance to a Canadian city, she'll offer to do a Web search. But when you ask for cities overseas (like Tokyo, for instance) she'll say that she's unable to answer.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
On the other hand, when you ask the distance to extraterrestrial places, Siri will give just the mileage.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
Either Siri knows about a secret government tunnel or she thinks I have a floating car. In any case, I don't know what to make of the detour through Seattle.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Stephen Yarbrough
Siri was smart enough to know that February doesn't have 31 days. Even better, she calculated the correct date as March 3.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
We don't have the answer to this question, and neither did Siri. In fact, most questions about Apple products will direct you to Apple.com.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
I learned that you have to be very specific with Siri. When I phrased the question like this, she got a little confused and offered me places that match "language" near Switzerland, Fla.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
When I asked the question like this, however, she got the right answer quickly. She even included Romansch.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
I expected her to get the "Shetland" reference, but I stumped Siri here. When she doesn't know the answer, she'll offer to do a Web search.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
To her credit, though, Siri did get this question correct. She even got that it was a trick question.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
When Siri can't get the answer, she will center on familiar words in the question. That's why a question about an ice cream bar delivered an answer about nearby watering holes.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
Siri is quite good at pop culture references. She gets extra points for knowing the Mary Crosby bit.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
The kid in the classic television commercial said, "The world may never know." But Siri does.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
Siri can be humble and self-aware. Or maybe in this case, the smartest answer is to not answer the question.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
When asked for nearby points of interest, Siri answers with a list of establishments. And when you ask for a preference, she gives a ranked list.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
Unfortunately, Siri couldn't answer any questions about airline schedules.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
It's nice to see that she knows her own name.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
I didn't have as much luck with Suri Cruise. I did, however, get a very useful list of local cruises.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
Sometimes, Siri is smarter than you think.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
And other times, she's mean.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
I'm not even going to try to explain this one.
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Poor Siri.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German
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