The iPhone4S finally arrived in Japan today, and thousands of people lined up outside their local Softbank or AU store, eager to get their hands on the phone when it hit the shelves at 8 am.
The most appealing new function of the iPhone4S for many people is the integrated voice interface, Siri. Apple claims that Siri enables you to easily send messages, check the weather, schedule meetings, and take care of a number of other traditionally text-based tasks just by using your voice.
Though it is currently not compatible with Japanese, the program is still available for use on Japanese iPhones. I made my way to an Apple Store to see if Siri would respond to my heavily-accented English but I had no luck. In fact, my broken attempts to inquire about the weather in English were interpreted so far off that I couldn’t help laughing.
Take a look at my techno-lingual struggle below.
Now, I’ve never studied abroad. Though I can read a little, I admit that I can’t get any further than greeting in a conversation. Still, I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could succeed in putting together a simple inquiry coherent enough for Siri to tell me it’s partly sunny with a chance of rain.
Yet no matter how many times I tried, Siri – in her cold, mechanical voice – would only reply: “I don’t understand.”
While it’s honestly no surprise that my attempts at English yield no results, Siri may be a useful tool for English learners to practice their pronunciation – the benchmark being that if Siri can pick up what you’re saying then it’s safe to say a native speaker can too.
I know that I would have given anything at that moment to have heard her say something other than “I don’t understand.” That’s all they ever say.
Original article, pictures & video: Hidenori Satoh
[ Read in Japanese ]