Apple’s Siri intelligent personal assistant raises new issues of iPhone etiquette

“Is talking to a phone the same as talking on it?,” Nick Wingfield asks for The New York Times.

“The sound of someone gabbing on a cellphone is part of the soundtrack of daily life, and most of us have learned when to be quiet — there is no talking in ‘quiet cars’ on trains, for example,” Wingfield reports. “But the etiquette of talking to a phone — more precisely, to a ‘virtual assistant’ like Apple’s Siri, in the new iPhone 4S — has not yet evolved. And eavesdroppers are becoming annoyed.”

Another irritant in listening to people talk to their phones is the awareness that most everything you can do with voice commands can also be done silently. Billy Brooks, 43, was standing in line at the service department of a car dealership in Los Angeles recently, when a woman broke the silence of the room by dictating a text message into her iPhone. ‘You’re unnecessarily annoying others at that point by not just typing out your message,’ said Mr. Brooks, a visual effects artist in the film industry, adding that the woman’s behavior was ‘just ridiculous and kind of sad.'”

MacDailyNews Take: They’re just pissed they don’t have Siri. Yet. 😉 It’s like this with all new tech as begins to hit the general public. It was like this with automobiles, the first cellphones, and with PDAs.

“People who study the behavior of cellphone users believe the awkwardness of hearing people in hotels, airports and cafes treating their phones like administrative assistants will simply fade over time,” Wingfield reports. “‘We’ll see an evolution of that initial irritation with it, to a New Yorker cartoon making fun of it, and then after a while it will largely be accepted by most people,’ said Mr. Katz from Rutgers. But, he predicted, ‘there will be a small minority of traditionalists who yearn for the good old days when people just texted in public.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If you use Siri in public places, what are some reactions you’ve noticed?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Whit D.” for the heads up.]

42 Comments

  1. It used to be like that with Bluetooth, everyone thought you were crazy talking to your self; now no one pays attention. Still some people think people who talk on their Bluetooth in public are assholes.

    1. If you need to talk you can not just disappear so no one would hear you and get annoyed.

      However, with Siri it is more complicated since you can do yourself all of the things she does silently. Though it will obviously take more time.

      Eiquette should allow to use Siri on streets or big spaces where others could go away from you (or you from them). But not in closed spaces or in the line use of Siri for things like text messaging is already questionable — despite bringing Siri to iPhone was Jobs’ decision, it is doubtful that he would use it publicly too much in closed spaces or lines.

        1. You probably missed parts of my post. Conversations are inevitable, but talks to Siri are. This is the difference.

          Obviously, if you are scheduling a meeting or a not via Siri, it is short. And if you are not doing this all the time in this closed space or a line, then it is could be allowed.

          But it you dictate letters and texts, this might be already excessive.

      1. Siri works when you raise the iPhone to your ear…..
        so yes you can “hide” Siri from the public. Just your voice is heard. Or if you have a Bluetooth headset it’s the same thing.

        Use Siri at your ear and I bet nobody will even notice.

        1. Yes! I don’t know why no one seems to realize this. When you raise your iPhone to your ear the conversation with Siri becomes much more akin to any other conversation you’d have on the phone (at least to onlookers).

          All I see in the TV adds or with people using it in real life is people holding the phone in front of them and yelling at it lol.

          I often put the phone to my ear when using Siri, and talk in a somewhat quiet or at least close to normal tone of voice.

          1. +100500

            Unless people in the close space or in a line hear what you a saying and could guess it is not a talk to an actual person (“Send message …”, “Take a note …”, et cetera).

          2. I really think the Commercials do a disservice to Siri by only showing that Siri is used while staring at the screen. (nobody ever remembers the guy using the Mic..)

            Either that or Siri has mesmerized everyone with that Purple Mic glowing… The power of the Purple Mic compels me to stare at it!

            (Now excuse me while I go stare at Siri some more)

  2. the only person who against Siri is adroid exec or adroid users. google/android is jealous of everything that apple has. its abviously adroid cant compete with siri. all they doing rigjt now is publishing negative comment on apple’s products.

  3. “And eavesdroppers are becoming annoyed.”

    And there’s the key part of the article.
    Annoyed cause people are talking to a phone and not a person, and yes jealousy 😉

    I’ve used Siri in public once, most times it’s at work to show Siri off or at home or with family.
    The two people that were around, one was impressed the other tried not to watch lol.

  4. I doubt I’d bother using Siri to dictate a text message, I have Dragon, and never used it. I prefer to use the keyboard, mainly because it gives me time to think about what I’m writing, and trying to dictate something, especially if there are people about, just feels wrong for me.

    1. Agreed. I don’t think id ever dictate any message in public with Siri.
      Reminders I doubt either..

      But use Siri to look up something like numbers address etc, not a problem.

    1. See as a Guy, I don’t get the cell phones in the bathroom thing..

      So I assume that all those studies that find bacteria/E Coli all over the phones are mainly women’s phones?

      I could just see a guy on his phone at a stall… I bet most of the other guys in the bathroom would want to bump his elbow to make him drop it in his own piss. 😉

  5. If I’m sitting in Starbucks having a coffee, I find it incredibly annoying if I can hear every word from someone ten feet away — whether they are conversing with someone at their table, or on their phone, or talking to Siri. I DON’T WANT TO LISTEN TO YOUR CONVERSATION. It’s nothing to do with the tech, for me. It’s a matter of being crassly oblivious to others and dominating the soundscape — of ‘aving no “couth”.

  6. I am more concerned about the loud voices used. Most people think they have to yell into their phones because the other party seems quiet. Unfortunately, when one person gets loud, the other compensates by getting quieter. If only they knew about how the AGC (Automatic Gain Control) works and that yelling is attenuated and whispering is amplified. If you don’t hear the other person very well, locate the phone on your ear better and use the volume control.

    You can whisper to Siri you know.

    1. It’s not using it that is annoying to me, it’s the volume. If somebody feels stupid talking to their phone, then don’t do it. But it doesn’t bother me to do it or if you do it as long as you don’t yell.

  7. I’M BOARDING RIGHT NOW AT GATE 43 LANDING AT O’HARE AT 6:30PM. YEAH. YEAH. HANG ON A SECOND. THE GATE LADY NEEDS MY BOARDING PASS. YEAH. YOU DAWG! I KINEW YOU WENT HOME WITH HER LAST NIGHT! HAAAA! HANG ON A SEC, WILL YOU? I’M STANDING IN A LONG LINE WAITING TO GET ON THE PLANE. YEAH. SO I’LL SEND THE CONTRACTS OVER TOMORROW. HANG ON. EVERYBODY LOOKS LIKE THEY WANT TO HURT ME.

  8. I don’t talk to Siri in public, but that’s mostly because I’d be embarrassed to let folks hear what I’m dictating to her… Probably my own insecurities here more than social issues!

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