Apple's virtual assistant, present on all IOS devices, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Apple computers and HomePod, allows you to perform a wide range of actions through verbal orders. So, for example, you can manage some native apps such as calendar, alarms and email, as well as third-party apps thanks to SiriKit, such as Whatsapp or Kayak. It is also possible, thanks to the Shortcuts app, to add shortcuts to Siri for the most used apps. In addition, other types of inquiries can be made to Siri, such as inquiries about weather, sports results, translations, simple mathematical operations or currency changes or metric units, among others.
A fundamental aspect with any virtual assistant is the user's interaction with it, especially in the oral understanding of the user's message and the response that the assistant provides. The better this interaction, the greater the satisfaction of the user and, therefore, the virtual assistant will be valued more positively.
An analysis of Siri interaction with the user from an IOS device is then carried out.
In most cases, Siri correctly identifies the verbal orders that are provided. Sometimes, if you do not identify something, ask the user to repeat it or you can confuse it and provide an inappropriate response. For example, when asked to say the meaning of a word, such as "glutton," he understood "both" (in Spanish). You may also confuse words that sound very similar, such as "songs" and "fields." These incorrect identifications may also be due to user pronunciation or noise in the room.
Siri is able to understand natural language, with phrases like "How's the bag going?" or "what is the weather like?", which makes interaction with this virtual assistant easier and more enjoyable. It is also able to link some questions, such as those related to weather. It is possible, for example, to ask "What is the weather like in Girona?" and then say "And in Madrid?" Siri will interpret that we are asking about Madrid's weather.
As for the answers Siri provides, these are also provided in natural language. If you are asked something for which you don't have the answer, the virtual assistant will refer the question to the Internet. For example, if asked for a recipe, look for the question asked on the Internet and provide the user with a list of links to the Internet.
Virtual assistants such as Siri receive verbal orders and provide spoken answers. However, it is possible to configure Siri so that you can receive orders using the on-screen keyboard, so that people with hearing problems can use it. Also, Siri provides the answer both in voice and text on the device screen.
One aspect that must be taken into account is that Siri identifies the user through the voice, that is, it will only be activated with the "Hey Siri" command when the voice matches the one stored. If the voice is not that of the device owner, this command will not work, and therefore it will only be possible to activate Siri by pressing the Siri button.
Another important aspect of the interaction with Siri lies in the maximum distance between the device and the user. In this sense, there are two possibilities. On the one hand, when Siri is activated by the "Hey Siri" command, the device must be relatively close to the user, a few tens of centimeters away for the user's voice to be recognized. If, on the contrary, Siri is activated by means of the Siri button, the distance may be greater than one meter for Siri to identify the order. This aspect is probably related to the quality of the device's microphone and the level of clarity that Siri requires in order to identify the voice of the device owner. Keep in mind that an iPhone SE has been used to perform this analysis.
Finally, in relation to the time between the user making the query and Siri providing the answer, this is adequate. However, factors that condition this response are the device from which Siri is used and the speed of the Internet connection. Thus, for example, if Siri is used from an Apple Watch (tested in a Series 2), the time it takes to provide the answer is longer than if the query is made, for example, from an IOS device.
Siri is a virtual assistant integrated in all Apple devices, designed to make life more comfortable for people in general. It is not specifically designed for people with some kind of special need or for the elderly, but it is very useful for this type of group. This is why it is essential to carry out an accessibility study, in order to check to what extent it can be used by the mentioned groups to, in a later analysis, identify in which aspects and situations of daily life Siri can help them .
People with visual functional diversity
People with visual functional diversity can use both screen readers, magnification, high contrast or other technical aids to handle mobile devices. While it is true that Siri is controlled by verbal orders, it is sometimes necessary to be able to use these technical aids with Siri, such as when asked the question "what do you know how to do?". Therefore, the following is a review of possible technical aids and how they work with Siri.
For starters, the VoiceOver screen reader is perfectly compatible with Siri. Sometimes, as indicated in the previous paragraph, technical aids must be used. In the previous case, when asking the question "what do you know how to do?", Siri does not verbalize anything but simply shows a list of apps with which he can interact and an example action. If the user wants to know more about a specific app, he must activate the item by touching it on the screen, so using VoiceOver is essential for people who handle the device.
There are people who have a good visual rest and simply need to magnify the screen of their device in order to control it. In this sense, the Zoom accessibility function is perfectly compatible with Siri, being able to magnify the screen with Siri's response. Simply by activating this option in the accessibility settings and using the associated gestures the user can make perfect use of Siri.
It is also possible to increase the font size in the accessibility options, a function that is compatible with Siri. The user must simply select the desired font size in the settings.
Finally it should be noted that it is possible to bold the letter and change the contrast, so that Siri will be more readable.
People with auditory functional diversity
People with auditory functional diversity, depending on the degree, may require that the information instead of being verbalized by Siri be displayed on the screen. To do this, in the accessibility settings you can configure Siri so that when you press the Siri button for a long time, instead of listening to a keyboard on the screen where the user can enter the command to Siri is displayed. Siri will respond normally, both by voice and with the response on the screen. Some users use headphones. In the IOS settings you can configure MFI hearing aids, which are compatible with Siri, making it easier for these people to listen to the response provided by Siri. It is also possible to improve hearing aid compatibility, which improves audio quality with some hearing aids.
People with physical functional diversity
This group of people covers a wide range of possibilities. However, this analysis focuses on people who have mobility problems or interaction with the device.
Although most of the actions are performed using verbal commands, sometimes it becomes necessary to have to perform some action on the screen, such as pressing a button or a link. For people with a problem interacting with the device, IOS has several configurable adaptations from the accessibility settings. Thus, you can control the device using buttons, activate touch facilities or AssistiveTouch. These interaction aids, which are not detailed here because they are outside the scope of this review, are compatible with Siri.
It is necessary to clarify at this point that for this analysis Siri has been tested on a touch screen device. The possible adaptations for other devices or the possible aids that other systems other than IOS have have not been taken into account.
Intellectual and mental functional diversity
People belonging to this category represent a very varied group of cases, where the degree of functional diversity is a determining factor when handling a technological device. IOS devices do not have any specific help for this group due to its wide variety of situations and because, in a part of the cases, disability is caused by cognitive problems. This does not mean that these people cannot use Siri, as this will be based on their degree of disability.
Although it is not an accessibility problem, it is necessary to make a small analysis of how this group can use Siri on an Apple device.
Older people represent a very varied casuistry, from users who are barely handled with an electronic device to those who handle them with great ease. This implies that the devices and their software are easy to understand and operate. In this case, Siri is very easy to use by older people, regardless of their knowledge, since they understand the natural language, sometimes colloquial, thus facilitating its use. This natural language not only refers to the one the user uses, but also to how Siri transmits the information to the user.
Another important issue in older people is problems due to age, such as visual or hearing problems. The aids seen in the previous sections for people with functional diversity are perfectly applicable and usable by the elderly, which facilitates the use of Siri.
In short, it can be concluded that an older person can use Siri without difficulty, being able to use the accessibility aids that he requires.
Next, a study of the user experience and what are the advantages and disadvantages for different groups, taking into account in which aspects of daily life Siri can be useful for these people.
Siri is a virtual assistant and, therefore, its function is to facilitate the user to interact with the device and perform certain tasks. It is therefore essential that the interaction between the user and the device be as pleasant and comfortable. In this sense, Siri is very pleasant, not only because of the natural language that he understands and uses, but also because of the voice used (Monica has been used, but there are others), the tone and the timbre. This makes the user feel comfortable talking to Siri, looking almost like talking to a person. While it is true that the voice used is pleasant, it is noted that it is a machine, repeating phrases frequently, where other expressions could be used to "give more life" to Siri. It is possible that this circumstance improves with the development of Siri in later versions.
Another important factor for the user experience to be satisfactory is the time it takes for Siri to respond to the actions or queries made by the user. In this regard, and usually, Siri responds between one and two seconds after finishing the query, adequate time to result in a good user experience. Keep in mind that this time may be increased depending on the speed of Internet connection and the device on which it is used. In Apple Watch, for example, this time increases considerably. It should also be noted that Siri can control objects compatible with HomeKit, but this has not been tested in this study and it is unknown, therefore, what is the behavior of Siri in these cases.
Siri is perfectly accessible, being compatible with all the accessibility aids that the devices have. This means that it can be used by all people, and its use is restricted in part only to people with intellectual functional diversity depending on the degree of disability they possess.
This virtual assistant presents a pleasant and comfortable interaction, facilitating the realization of a large number of actions and the handling of household devices to people who otherwise could not do it or who could only do so partially. However, some very common actions, such as hanging up or off-hooking a call, are not supported, so the use of Siri in these situations is greatly restricted.
In general, Siri is a tool with great utility for a wide range of groups, facilitating the tasks of daily life.
- It facilitates the handling of Apple devices and HomeKit compatible devices.
- Integrated in all Apple devices.
- Compatible with Apple's assistive technologies.
- It could suggest the development of full compatibility with the Telephone app.
- It would be interesting that in future versions Siri can be activated with "Hey Siri" at a greater distance.
- It could be suggested that Siri improves compatibility with commonly used apps, such as Mail or Safari.