Oct 11

Siri makes her TV debut

Welcome to Steve Jobs Authorized Biography Week. Shame on me for not writing about the Isaacson book today — but hey, that thing is long. Meet me back here in a few days.

For now, let’s talk Siri, which is shaping up to be a giant leap for such a “disappointing” iPhone 4S.

What better way to celebrate a giant leap than with a TV commercial. And the verdict is…


Like Siri, this spot feels new. The music track has a sense of magic. What we see is simply a sequence of different people interacting with Siri in different ways. It may be an obvious way of demoing Siri, but when you have an extraordinary feature, obvious is your best friend.

Siri comes off like the practical application of the technology we’ve seen forever in movies like 2001 and Star Trek. (With slightly better results than 2001.) It feels like the cast is talking to a person rather than a computer, which of course is the whole point of Siri — and what makes it such an “on-brand” technology for Apple.

There are nice touches in the writing that add to the humanity. Like “How do I tie a bow tie again?” Siri doesn’t particularly care about the “again” part, but that’s how people talk. In the last clip, we get more of a lament than a question or command: “I’m locked out of the house.” Siri seems almost empathetic.

If Siri is a world-changing feature, Apple could have run a grand manifesto ad to boldly proclaim the beginning of a new age. Instead, they went the quieter route, demonstrating how Siri fits into our lives. We hear Siri speak only once — which is another part of the crafting, as too much of Siri’s voice would only draw attention to one of her weaker areas.

So congrats to Apple and Chiat for a job well done.

Anything to quibble over? One small thing. In a spot where “human and natural” is the theme, the shots of Mr. Hand holding an iPhone (first and last scenes) feel unnatural — because they are lifeless still images of a hand rather than film. I’m sure this makes it easier to add the screens in post production, but surely the technology exists to do the same with real film. I think I know what Siri would say:

“I’ve found three digital effects studios fairly close to you.”

Conan O’Brien has already done his version of this commercial. See that here.

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  • Bmcfadden

    Having used Siri for a week, I can say I think Apple has just done for Google what it had previously done for Adobe’s Flash — made it increasingly irrelevant.