What I was not prepared for was Siri. Oh, sure, I’d seen the Martin Scorsese commercials about Siri, but that made me afraid, not informed. When the guy at the Apple store told me Siri was included on the new iPhone 5, I briefly considered backtracking to the iPhone 4 or even 1. In the end, he talked me into the iPhone 5 for a variety of reasons (“It’s cool and your friends who are not yet eligible for an upgrade will be super-jealous”).At first, I ignored Siri. I had lived for 30-something years without her (okay, 40-something); why did I need her now?
But then the Apple store sent me a friendly email informing me that they offered a free iPhone class for Beginners.
I called the Apple store to sign up, and a chirpy girl name Terri (eerily similar to “Siri”) assured me that there was no level before Beginner (“No, ma’am, we do not offer a Pre-Beginner class or iPhone classes for English as a second language, and by the way your English sounds pretty good to me”), so I was stuck. I showed up and sat next to a college student who I was fairly sure should have been teaching the class, not asking questions about “How to store my virtual photos in albums” or “How to send my contact a contact” (?) or “What is the fastest way to delete multiple texts”. He was like that annoying A+ student who always sits in the front making the rest of us feel like idiots.“Don’t you just love Siri?” he whispered to me and then gave me a quick pat on the back like I was a puppy.
I gave a weak nod, and then the teacher Dhan (“Like ‘Dan’ but with an ‘h’,”) said we should “meet” Siri.“Press this button, and then you can ask Siri anything.”
Anything? Like if the fiscal cliff is real or if it is just a bunch of media hype?“Siri, what is the population of Atlanta?” asked the woman to my right.
A no-nonsense voice replied, “Let me check that for you,” and next thing you know, a screen popped up with all kinds of interesting facts about Atlanta, including the population. Too bad Siri was not around in the days of Trivial Pursuit because I might have actually won with her assistance.Next, I heard Dhan say, “Take a note, Siri” and Siri respond, “What would you like the note to say?”
YOU COULD DICTATE NOTES?!Finally, Mr. College Know-It-All requested that Siri give him directions to the closest Starbucks. Now Siri was speaking my language. She told Mr. College that “There are 17 Starbucks near you, which one do you want?” and then he selected the one that was inside the Apple store.
I was puzzled how Siri knew our precise location, but then Dhan told us there was a global locating feature, and if you enabled it, then Siri could give you directions. Mr. College gingerly took my phone out of my hand, pressed a few keys, and voilà! GPS enabled.“You have to be careful, though, because the GPS can be a real drain on your battery.”
I smiled like I knew what that meant.
On the way home, I thought I would test Siri and ask her for directions back to my house. Sure enough, Siri gave me a new route I had never tried that actually ended up saving me 15 minutes.
Now Siri and I are inseparable. I whisper blog ideas to her, dentist appointment reminders, and Target lists. She dutifully writes everything down. I tell her to call Jennifer, and she asks which one. If she does not have an immediate answer for me, she coyly stalls by saying, “Let me check that for you.” And if I miss a turn when she gives directions, she pretends we were supposed to go that way and she adjusts the route (without even once complaining or saying, “How did you not see that sign?!”).The only thing she can’t do: help me find where I left my new iPhone in my house.