Oct 11

iPhone’s Magic 8-Ball

Human beings have this built-in need to be fascinated.

In the past, Apple’s iDevices have done a pretty good job of seducing us simply by their elegance and simplicity.

With iPhone 4S, however, Siri is doing the job all by itself. Or, should I say, herself. Simultaneously, Siri manages to appeal to both our adult lust for coolness and our inner 12-year-old.

I might look scornfully upon those spending valuable time asking Siri silly questions if I weren’t so busy doing it myself. People actually search the Internet to find new Siri jokes, just so they can ask the same question and see the answer again on their own phone.

Siri is the Magic 8-Ball, redesigned for the 21st century. She’s mysterious, intelligent, witty and displays a charming robotic arrogance. Oh, and she also has some seriously productive uses.

Siri mysteriously stopped working for me after a few hours, then sprang back to life hours later. I wasn’t aware that Siri required a connection to Apple’s servers, and those servers are being overworked by the hordes seeking Siri’s wisdom. The initial frenzy will die down soon enough.

I’m sure Apple will keep the numbers secret, but during this “getting to know you” phase, it’s not hard to imagine that the comedic uses of Siri at least equal the serious ones. Not only do people amuse themselves, they then feel compelled to entertain friends, family and colleagues.

Part of the fascination of the old Magic 8-Ball was watching it work. Out of that murky black fluid inside, amazing answers would come into focus. Like Reply hazy, try again. Or Signs point to yes. Or Don’t count on it. It knew everything.

The fascination of Siri is that she has more answers than a three-dimensional triangle. She can be outright verbose too. Plus, she has a robotic awareness of human weakness and doesn’t hold back. Unless, of course, she doesn’t have the answer in her database.

While the Magic 8-Ball quickly landed on our bookshelves gathering dust, Siri is looking like she’ll become part of the family. Once you become more acquainted, you get why she’s still a Beta. However, you can also see her amazing potential. Obviously she’ll sprout new voices (the real HAL will be a must-have) and she’ll learn to interact with more apps.

Will Siri change the way we interact with all of our devices, including our computers?

It is decidedly so.



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  • Riz

    Magic 8-Ball? You are showing your age Ken? :-)

  • jsk

    Showing his age? My nephews have one. They still make them. (Though, yes, I remember them when they were new.)

  • ken segall

    Yeah, my kid has one too. There are plenty of other things that make me feel old :)

  • What’s wrong with showing your age? I call it “showing your wisdom.”

  • Great line starting off the article:

    “Human beings have this built-in need to be fascinated.

  • Janetingson

    Do you have a test  tomorrow ?  Ask the ball how will you do? With the new
    iPhone and iPod Touch application, be amazed with the answers! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cristal-ball/id468286247?l=es&mt=8