Siri in iOS 6 has learned a few new tricks. She can tell you scores, make reservations and (Awesome? Who cares?) launch apps. Old Siri is out of touch and only knows how to perform the most basic of functions. While Apple's new upgraded tech still isn't perfect, New Siri promises to act like what the digital assistant should've been from the start, which is to say an actual helpful convenience, and not just a novelty.
We decided to fire off five simple questions New Siri's way while also seeing how Old Siri responds. Will her new abilities justify the wait for iOS 6? Or is Siri just too limited for people to even care?
Siri in iOS 6 is on the left; Siri in iOS 5 is on the right.
Who won the Heat vs. Thunder game last night?
If you're a sports fan, this will often be your most pressing question the day after: Who won the game? The question doesn't alway strike in the most convenient of places, either — driving, as one example — meaning Siri is actually a pretty great option for finding the quickest answer. That is, if no humans are around, or if it's just you and grandma at breakfast. Siri in iOS 6 displayed the result like an actual scoreboard, which is a nice touch from Apple. You even get a quarter-by-quarter breakdown, along with the venue where the game took place. Old Siri? She wants to search the Web, where she spends most of her time sorting through information. No thanks, Old Siri.
How tall is Kevin Durant?
New Siri would tell you 6'9″. Old Siri would like to direct us to the Web. Again. I can see this one being used mostly through impulse: while you're watching a game, or have a bet to settle with someone, etc. Siri's individual player knowledge might also be insanely useful for people who love fantasy sports, too. Whether or not you do test Siri's sports knowledge, it's nice to see the information is beautifully displayed; it wasn't just thrown together by Apple. In this case, you get Durant's height, birthday, position, team, weight and averages, all presented almost like a trading card. It's like I'm eight years-old again.
Where is Prometheus playing?
Redbox is apparently considered a movie theater to Siri in iOS 5. Also, I wish I could rent Prometheus right now, which I have not seen (good/bad/ok?). Currently, Siri provides the closest theaters compared to your location, which is helpful, but it doesn't provide movie times. In addition, when you press on a theater in iOS 5, you're taken to the map app. New Siri tells you where the movie is playing, and when. She also provides the movie's Rotten Tomatoes rating, just in case you care what the many critics have to say.
Say you want to make a reservation before that late night Prometheus showing. Siri in iOS 5 can competently search for nearby restaurants by cuisine, but she most definitely doesn't make reservations; you're on your own for that. When I politely asked Old Siri to make a reservation, she mockingly showed be the nearest restaurants. When I asked again, she did the same thing. And again, and again, and again. It was like an insanely infuriating looped tape that teased and taunted. So I asked New Siri, and she did what I asked first try. My solo Roman Cucina reservation and Prometheus movie night is all set.
Posting to Facebook
Ask New Siri from anywhere in iOS 6 to update your Facebook status, and she'll do it. Ask Old Siri the same question, and nope, she can't help. Looks like I'll have to type my status out myself. Likewise for Twitter. For users with a social media addiction, allowing Siri to do the brunt work when updating their status is certainly a welcome convenience. No more jumping into the app, waiting for it to load, hitting update status and then typing everything out. Now you can simply say, "Update Facebook status," and up will pop the familiar box you see above (left). You'll look even more deranged out in public while simultaneously updating your social networks. It's a win/win.
A More Mature Siri
Going in, we knew Siri in iOS 5 wouldn't answer these questions the same way New Siri did, but that was the point. In iOS 6, Apple has finally made what was limited to a few simple requests into something people will use on a more regular basis. Sports are year-round, there's almost always a good movie to see and who doesn't like a good Italian restaurant? Siri's purpose is to make the more tedious tasks less so. In iOS 5, she partially did that, but Apple's effort wasn't quite enough. Judging from the iOS 6 beta, she's definitely more at the level we expected from the start.