There are a few apps on my iPhone that are there just to show other people how cool the iPhone is. They aren’t useful really, except that when people want to see the iPhone they make for a great demo. Examples for me are Weather HD, CardFlick, Compass, Heart Rate and a few games that have great graphics but which I never actually play.

It seems to me that Siri is slowly entering this area of ‘nice to show but not actually useful’. I know a quite few people with an iPhone 4s and I asked around a bit and they all almost regretfully acknowledge that they, in fact, don’t really use it anymore, once you get beyond the newness of it all.

The commercials look great and in the beginning you can still find the patience to play and experiment with it. But then reality kicks in and you find out that Siri is just too slow and although it’s probably the best voice recognition on any mobile platform, it still isn’t good enough to always understand what you mean.

It reminds me of Apple’s earlier attempt at voice recognition, called PlainTalk. It came pre-installed with with System 7 on Apple’s Quadra line of computers and it looked awesome:

I remember being excited about the technology at the time and trying it out for the first time. It worked, sorta. You had to speak LOUD and CLEAR and there was a few second delay before the computer seemed to react. 8 out of 10 times the command wasn’t recognized and I would have to repeat the sentence. Within minutes it became very clear that just typing the command or clicking the mouse was more efficient and a lot faster.

After that the only times I used PlainTalk was when I wanted to show off the capabilities of my computer. Which brings me back to the iPhone, and Siri. I know that Siri is light years ahead of PlainTalk. It is just so much more than just speech recognition. But ‘m still wondering how useful it is once you get beyond the thrill of seeing it work.

Lets find out how Siri is doing, if it is really being used, or whether it is time to say goodbye:

The Siri commercial, so you can compare it to the PlainTalk commercial.