Apple's Siri-centric commercials for the iPhone 4S are the focus of a controversy this week, as a man in New York is suing Apple for what he claims are "misleading" TV advertisements.
The lawsuit charges that Apple's ads show Siri doing more than it can in real life; there is a sarcastic jab at Siri on the second page of the suit that essentially sums up the complaint, in which the plaintiff argues ironically that Apple's ads indicate that Siri "performs useful functions and otherwise works as advertised." (The intimation being that the real Siri neither performs useful functions nor works as advertised. Ahem.)
As a kind of (non-)scientific experiment, I decided to take a look at one of these iPhone 4S ads -- the much-discussed, rather polarizing "Rock God" commercial -- and put it through its paces. The video that follows is simply me repeating every voice command prompt in the Rock God ad, word for word. Every shot you see is a first take: No do-overs, no second chances. This "first takes only" rule means that I often completely fail to point my iPhone at the camera at first. Nobody's perfect.
Speaking of which: Siri comes out looking -- well, not so good. Perhaps she was camera shy or had been up late the night before. Perhaps the Siri servers were overloaded, or my AT&T "4G" network was sputtering. Perhaps my perma-groggy voice and disarming Southern drawl were too much for Siri to process at once.
Whatever it was, I got decidedly different results from Siri than the young Chad Kroeger of the commercial did. It is perhaps not grounds for a lawsuit, but it's worth noting that Siri responded to only two out of seven prompts on the first try as it did in the ad, with one coming with serious time lag, not at all the instantaneity that the commercial suggests. One mistake was also fairly minor: In the text message test, Siri heard "Our" as "Are" -- a small error, but an error nonetheless.
Below, you can watch the video for yourself, with the commands on the original Siri commercial followed by my commands to Siri here in the New York HuffPost office. I apologize to my audience for the occasionally spotty video quality, and to my mother for my beard.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to reprogram my iPhone not to call me "Rock God" anymore.