Thursday, October 9, 2014

Shut Up Siri

A Read/WriteWeb article today, 'Shut Up Siri, I'm Driving!' AAA Issue Apple iDevice Warning, hit a nerve for me.  It cites a AAA article (PDF), which gives Siri a high rating for "mental distraction while driving."

Since upgrading to iOS 8 on my iPhone, I've taken advantage of one of its new features that lets you open a conversation with Siri when the phone is tethered to a power supply.

The phone in my car is already linked to a third-party bluetooth device that gives me hands-free voice capability.  But that capability only extended to my being able to answer the phone with the click of a button on my steering wheel.  The new iOS 8 feature lets me activate Siri by saying "Hey Siri."  When Siri wakes up, I can then say "Dial SoAndSo, Home (or Mobile)" and initiate a call.

That's a nice new feature, but it does have its frustrations.  Maybe its because of sporadic net lag, but sometimes Siri is just slow and dumb.  Like last night, while I was driving, I took my eyes off the road for a moment to confirm that Siri was indeed engaged.  The phone is mounted on top of my dashboard, so it's not like I'm totally distracted.   I got frustrated that Siri was being slow to respond to my voice command, and I called Siri impolite names.

According to the article,
The study measured drivers’ reaction time with equipment such as instrumented test vehicles and heart-rate monitors. Although Siri is hands-free and eyes-free, drivers using the Apple function to perform a number of tasks experienced some of the most elevated levels of distraction.

Yes, that's it. My interaction with Siri was indeed providing me an elevated level of distraction.  Luckily I don't use Siri frequently and when I do, "she" is not always that dumb and slow.

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