iPhone 4S, Siri and the Garmin Zumo 660

So I just received my iPhone 4S. I love it.

One of the new features is Siri, an AI assistant which uses voice to interact with me as an user, and the backend of what is my iPhone: reminders, my calendar, my contacts, and the internet.

Now, interacting with voice is not something entirely new. My car’s hifi and satnav system supports a basic level of voice commands to call people from my contact list, and even my Garmin Zumo 660 which I use on my motorcycle supports it.

Whereas in my car the voice commands are processed by the car, however, Garmin’s Zumo 660 uses the voice support of my phone. So if I had a phone which did not support voice commands, I’d be out of luck. But Garmin’s Zumo 660 specifies in the documentation that this voice is only limited to calling people: you shout their name in the microphone, and your phone should know what to do: call the contact who’s name you shouted.

It all goes a bit haywire on the iPhone 4S though: instead of simple voice commands, the speech button on the Garmin Zumo 660 starts up Siri on the iPhone and Siri will accept voice commands.

That’s the good bit. The bad bit is that if you’re not quick enough giving your voice command and receiving an answer from Siri, the Zumo will end the voice dialing phase with an error saying that the phone does not support it, breaking off your dialogue with Siri.

So the basic premise is: Yes, Siri can work for you on your motorcycle, but Garmin needs to modify their firmware to recognize and treat Siri differently than any other voice dialer system.