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Turn Your iPhone into a Personal Assistant That You Can Talk To

Software that promises to do your bidding is usually more annoying than helpful -- just ask Clippy -- but technology seems to be advancing to the point that such apps might start to be actually useful. Indeed, there's a new app for the iPhone that's truly a game changer. It responds to voice recognition, interprets your plain English commands, and leverages a slew of Web sites and services to actually do useful work for you.

Siri is a personal assistant that interprets your speech to perform common tasks. You can ask Siri to make restaurant reservations, find movie showings, check flight status, recommend weekend activities, and more. Indeed, there's a treasure trove of things Siri can do, and I've had a blast for the last few days trying to stump it. More often than not, I wasn't able to.

I've been impressed to discover that Siri can parse fairly complicated sentences -- you can ask it to find a specific kind of store in your local area (it's location aware, naturally), locate Mexican restaurants, or find a theater where you can watch a specific movie. It can't yet book a flight for you, but Siri promises that feature is coming soon.

This is the first time I've seen a program that pairs speech recognition with personal assistance, and the broad range of Web services -- over two dozen right now -- means it's actually useful. Check out the video, and then grab Siri for yourself -- it's free.

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