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iPhone 4S: Siri’s international limitations

Siri's response to non-U.S. users looking up businesses. Credit: Aral Balkan.

Siri (s aapl) is a big draw for customers interested in the iPhone 4S. Apple’s early promo material about the feature make it look absolutely amazing, and by most accounts, it is. But if you’re not in the U.S., you might experience a little disappointment when you fire Siri up.

In non-U.S. countries, or if you’re not using U.S. English as your device language, Siri can’t look for businesses, use maps or access traffic info. So asking it to find the best route to your cousin’s house in Germany won’t produce results, nor will inquiring about restaurants in your immediate vicinity.

Siri should still offer some impressive benefits; you can still use it to dictate texts, schedule appointments and send emails, for instance. But a lot of the features missing in non-U.S. phones are the ones that really lit up the pre-release demos. Siri’s ability to know and interact with the world around you is a big part of its appeal.

Now Apple has said it will be gradually rolling out localizations of Siri for the rest of the world, and for other languages, and that the software is currently in a “beta” state. That means we can probably expect missing features to eventually make their way to international devices, too. Thinking about the massive undertaking involved in creating a locally aware, intelligent, virtual assistant on the iPhone 4S makes my head spin; no doubt it’ll take Apple some time to get there.

Siri may not be all that worldly yet, but you can still spend countless hours toying with it, and using it to get stuff done on your phone. And in due time, she’ll probably pick up some international flair, too.

7 Responses to “iPhone 4S: Siri’s international limitations”

  1. how do they expect any sales outside of the US? im in new zealand and i was really excited about this, but no siri and the 4s is just faster and more expensive, esentially a waste of an upgrade.
    im not gonna waste my time talking to my phone just to text. i would like to know how to get somewhere, or what the weather will be like, but until its released properly here, the 4s will have a dismal response

  2. dennisbk

    In cases where internationalization means extra work, that’s understandable. But why restrict maps to the US? Siri uses Google maps to find places and Google maps works in every country (minus few exceptions). It’s hard to understand why I cannot even lookup an address here in Berlin. Siri correctly understands and prints it, then tells me it cannot help with maps…

  3. No surprises with this. Even less so in places like Japan as this is a problem with most apps in general over here. The communities to build these apps into bigger and better things just don’t seem to exist yet.

    Just curious, but has apple given any dates for this gradual rolling out?