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Siri is the iPhone 4s killer feature for motorcycle riders

via flickr user Al Pavangkanan

At first glance the iPhone 4s is an incremental improvement from the previous version. The pundits have blasted it as being a boring, yawn inducing, upgrade, and as an iPhone 4 owner, I had agreed with them. Until I acquired another piece of interesting technology and in the process, uncovered the iPhone 4s’s killer feature.

The Scala Rider G4 is an in helmet bluetooth device that lets the rider communicate with the outside world from the back of her motorcycle. I was motivated to pick up the G4 before a road trip down to Oregon so I would have a handy way to listen to music, and accept the occasional phone call on the 5 hour ride. The G4 worked perfectly, except for the occasionally miscommunication between myself and the iPhone itself. The iPhone 4s uses the old school voice control app which is usable, sort of, but it’s nowhere near perfect. I’ve gotten in touch with a few old friends unexpectedly (Matt Andersen and Mike Andreessen sound really similar…)

Enter Siri

If I’m completely honest, I believe Siri to be kind of a parlor trick, fun and flashy but somewhat useless for a majority of tasks. Off of the bike I get the most use out of Siri when I grow weary of trying to tap out long messages. Dictating to Siri instead of entering text via the on screen keyboard can be a huge time saver. The integration with Wolfram Alpha is fun but not earth shattering. Dictating reminders is nice. All periodically handy features that have an equivalent, likely superior alternative.

Unless you ride a motorcycle.

On a motorcycle you have this fantastically capable device in your pocket, that you simply can’t make use of. Sure it’ll play music, and if someone calls you, you can answer, but the metaphorical road runs out after that.

The true excitement behind Siri is not what you can do in your office, or at home, but what you can do between those places.

I will have Siri read texts to me while I’m riding. I’ll dictate responses back to her. If I feel like listening to some music, I can ramble off a command to shuffle some high rated songs and Siri will figure it out. If I have a random factual question that is bugging me, or something I need to add to a shopping list or todo list, Siri will help take notes for me. The list goes on and on.

I think Apple is stepping into a big void and offering a solution to a problem for which no one has taken ownership… what do you do about all these phone related car accidents? How do we help people take their eyes off their phones and put it back on the road?

Texting while driving? I have no reason to do that anymore…

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. William #

    Hi there,
    I found your blog after researching using siri on a motorbike. maybe you can help me – how do you operate it? on a motorbike, you cnt easily press the headphones button to activate siri – how do you activate it to talk to you? and how to do you set just siri to read out text messages whilst your on the bike (and ONLY when youre on the bike) thanks for your help in advance!

    February 25, 2012
    • Hi William,

      With the Scala product, when you hit a button (it’s big and easy to find) on the unit itself it initiates the “voice command” feature of the iPhone. There are 3 buttons on top of the Scala, a volume up, volume down, and another button that in one click does the same thing as holding the home button on the iPhone itself.

      With the iPhone 4S you can choose whether you want to use the old voice command, or Siri. Unfortunately you have to ask Siri if you have any text messages. She wont read them to you automatically, which is both good and bad. Good because you can wait until you are in a good spot to be able to deal with the incoming text, but bad because you have to remember to check periodically.

      Gary

      February 27, 2012
  2. William #

    That’s great ! Thanks a lot for the tip!

    February 27, 2012
  3. Ben Edgar #

    Hi Gary

    I just got the iphone 4 s and i’m using the Sena SMH10 bluetooth headset on my helmet and it doesn’t work with SIri at all well. Siri was a huge selling point for the phone due to the upside on the motorbike!!

    On this basis can you recommend the Scala product? Also, there are so many of them – which one is the most appropriate would you say?

    Regards

    Ben

    April 17, 2012
    • Hey Ben,

      I’ve struggled a little bit recently with Siri but mostly because of slow response times from Siri. I had one trip where I couldn’t get Siri to respond while I was riding down the freeway, and it was very clearly because it wasn’t able to connect to Apple’s servers. The Scala G4 seems to work great connecting to the iPhone, but the “beta” tag still hasn’t been removed from Siri. That said, going back to voice command to do basic stuff also works fine on the 4S, so when you are in town and getting good 3G connection speeds, Siri will work great, but then can get a little sketchy on the road if you find yourself in a deadzone.

      Hope that helps,
      Gary

      April 24, 2012

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