The IPhone 4S Siri Review in the Chevrolet Volt
I’ve been a long time sprint customer and Android user, but when I heard that the IPhone 4S was coming to Sprint and it had this feature called “Siri” I had to give it a shot with my Chevrolet Volt. For those of you that are wondering, Siri is a voice recognition computerized assistant, often compared sarcastically with the 2001 Space Odyssey AI, the HAL 9000. For more about Siri, read the basics at the Apple Siri Page.
While Siri is still a long way from the near sentient computer assistants depicted in Sci Fi series like Star Trek, it is capable of some very useful tasks, especially in the context of a car. Below you’ll see a demonstration video of one of those features.
To get the most out of the digital assistant, I purchased a customized IPhone Mount from ProClipUsa. This company sells high quality custom phone mounts for all sorts of cars including the Chevrolet Volt. The advantage of this is that the phone fits perfectly and the mount is customized for your vehicle so it fastens safely and securely without any adhesives or suction cups. I highly recommend these compared to generic mounts as they are very sturdy and the custom fit clips right into the Volt’s center console.
Next, I simply “paired” my new iPhone with my Chevy Volt like you would any other phone and it was ready to go. Apple was smart enough so that when you “activate” Siri by holding down the home button, it effectively “connects a call” to the phone so that you can use the Volt’s speaker system as well as the Volt’s directional microphones positioned in the roof of the car (the same ones that you would use for OnStar calls) This means that you can easily hear the voice prompts and increases the chances of your commands being understood as the microphone is setup to isolate the noises of the car vs. being positioned down low on the phone near the shifter.
It’s worth noting that with the setup I have, when you are shifted into Drive or L mode, it’s very easy to reach the IPhone’s home button to activate Siri without taking your eyes off the road. Simply put your hand on the shifter and reach over to the recessed home button with your thumb. When you activate Siri, there is a little pause as the IPhone attempts to open a connection with the Volt’s Bluetooth speaker/microphone pairing. When the connection completes, your Air conditioning and radio will automatically dim out to get out of the way. From there you are ready to go simply by pressing the on screen microphone button. You find this button without taking your eyes off the road simply by moving your thumb up a little from the home button.
I was able to have Siri read me my last text message and then I responded to the message purely with voice commands. This essentially isn’t much more distracting than having a conversation in the car with a passenger.
Siri can’t really do everything yet though, as advertised it can send and receive texts, set appointments, set reminders etc. But for example it can’t read your emails to you or save contacts. So it still has a long way to go, but it’s a great start to a more connected car. The experience of “finding a restaurant” or another location is still much better with Onstar and a live operator – but Siri fills a gap by allowing you to communicate with others safely while on the road.