“Xbox. Kinect.”

“Navigate to (pause) Pittsburgh.”

Voice commands have been in vogue of late. And they’re becoming much more useful than ever. I found myself using them in everyday life.

Then Siri came along.

Suddenly the whole concept of voice commands seemed to evolve in an instant. The rigid vernacular of my Xbox’s Kinect or the Android’s voice actions melted away. I could just talk to my phone. Here’s an example of how I would get my old Android phone to play the new Muppets soundtrack.

“Listen to (pause) The Muppets.”

I found the pause helpful and at time necessary to help the phone differentiate between the verb of the command and the object of the command. Now with my iPhone 4S, it goes like this.

“Play The Muppets,” or “Listen to The Muppets soundtrack,” or “Can I listen to The Muppets,” and it works.

This is significant for a lot of reasons. First of all, it means that I no longer have to memorize some command list. I can jus say whatever comes naturally. Maybe not the biggest deal ever for me, but when I think of someone like my parents using this technology, that’s a huge deal. Being able to just ask my phone to wake me up in 8 hours rather than using the same vernacular to set an alarm at a specific time is both useful and strangely compelling.

This is especially great for using the platform to send texts. On Android saying, “Send text to Chris Minotti saying When will you be home?” would often result in a message composed to no recipient that contained a message saying “To Chris Minotti saying when will you be home?” Even though I followed the rules, it would often not know what I meant.

Now I just say “Ask Chris When will you be home?” and my phone knows that I mean Chris Minotti (since that’s the Chris I most often text) and gets everything right.

Plus, I never tire of asking my phone how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

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