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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Women turn to a new friend - Siri

Apple's iPhone 4S gives women a 'loyal assistant,' a voice-activated multi-tasking tool

india Updated: Nov 26, 2011 23:35 IST
Petula Dvorak, The Washington Post
Petula Dvorak, The Washington Post
It-is-the-dual-core-A5-chip-that-stands-out-the-most-in-the-latest-iteration-of-the-iPhone-Awesome-performance-and-has-given-a-huge-boost-in-multi-tasking( )

Women don't want more slippers, bad perfume, scarves, gloves, hats or waffle irons, and despite what the commercials say, no jewellery, please. And we're not buying that the ginormous HD, 3-D TV is for us.

What women really want this year is a cheeky little vixen named Siri. "My new best friend," "a blessing" and "loyal assistant" are the ways women have described Siri, the voice-controlled, personal assistant on the iPhone 4S.

Women want her. They covet her. They've even told me they "lust after her." "I would love to have her," Janet Vander Ley of Arlington County told me at an Apple Store. She looked at her sad, little iPhone 3, which will never house Siri. "My 16-year-old son has her. We got him the 4S. He asks her questions all day long."

What would Janet do with Siri? "You could ask her to make reservations, schedule appointments, get directions," she sighed. "She'd be so useful."

And yes, the program is a she. That was made quite clear to me by another woman when I asked her how she liked 'it.' "Siri is a she," said the woman, a federal worker and mother of two teens. "She's my new best friend."

Of course. Who else but a best friend would tell you, when you ask about the meaning of life, that "all evidence to date suggests it's chocolate"? Most of Siri's energy will be spent answering questions like that. Mostly, by men.

Late-night host Conan O'Brien made that point just a few days after Siri made her appearance, in a sketch that spliced Apple's own scenes of women asking Siri to remind them to buy milk, or for directions to a hospital, with two recliner kings asking her to make "reservations for two at 7 p.m. between your [breasts]" and so forth.

Siri has a sense of humour designed to deal with these men's persistently raunchy questions. When dorks ask her to talk dirty to them, she responds: "Humus. Compost. Pumice. Silt. Gravel." Nice one.

And when she is asked, "What are you wearing?" she responds, "Why do people keep asking me this?" Obviously, she is designed to deal with Man Humour. Women would ask who she is wearing. But let's get back to the Siri's purpose. A personal assistant.

Most men tell me that the utility of the software is underwhelming. But men don't multi-task the way women do.

"I can make lists, and she'll remind me what groceries to buy," said Krista Reusche, a manager at a tech recruiting firm in Arlington. She uses Siri to set up meetings, make calls and set reminders.

Women are multi-taskers. Ever really listen to a mom in the car or at her desk? She's working on an earnings projections report while Googling "Barbie birthday cake," calling the doctor to get Tommy's foot wart removed and checking the weather to see whether the football game is still on. Who wouldn't want help with all that?

An editor friend of mine didn't really need Siri to be a girlfriend. "Siri needs a different voice," she said. Apple did figure this out in some places. Siri, it turns out, is a man in France. Bien sur.

(In Exclusive Partnership with The Washington Post)

First Published: Nov 26, 2011 23:31 IST

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