iOS 6 preview: Siri goes to the movies

iOS 6 preview: Siri goes to the movies

Not many real-world assistants will help you find a movie to watch anymore, or look up who is in it and how well it's rated for you, not even Siri on iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S. With iOS 6, however, Siri is not only opening on the iPad, but its becoming a veritable movie buff to boot.

Here's how Apple previews it:

Siri can help you find the latest flicks by location or showtimes. Can’t decide? Ask Siri to show you a movie trailer or a Rotten Tomatoes review. Siri is also quite the film buff: Find out when a film premiered, who directed it, and what awards it won. Or ask Siri which movies your favorite actors star in, so you won’t miss any of their past or future blockbusters.

Siri's movie expertise is only available to beta testers right now, but Apple did show it off during WWDC 2012, so we've at least gotten a small peek behind the big red curtains.

Here's the kind of information Siri will be able to present:

  • Studio: Who produced the movie
  • Title: What the movie is called
  • Director: Who directed the movie
  • Actors: The 3 top highest billed stars of the movie
  • Rotten Tomatoes rating: The aggregated percentage review rating of the movie
  • Content Rating: The MPAA rating for the movie (G, PG, R, etc.)
  • Runtime: The length of the movie in minutes
  • Description: A brief teaser about the movie, including plot, characters, and actors.

Here's what you'll be able to do with Siri's newfound movie expertise:

  • Ask "Where is Prometheus is playing?" and get a list of movie theaters and showtimes for the movie.

  • Ask "What movies are playing at the Metreon?" and get a list of movies and showtimes for the specific theater you asked for.

  • You can tap into one of them to get a lot more information about a specific movie.

  • You can tap beneath the movie poster to watch the movie trailer, or tap on the Rotten Tomatoes review rating to see a list of individual reviews.

  • Say "Show me movies starring Scarlet Johansson" and get a list of movies starring the actor, or made by the director, you asked about.

  • You can also ask for any other piece of information about a movie, such as "what is Prometheus rated" or "is Prometheus a good movie" and be shown the movie's information sheet.

Siri's Pixar-like personality is obviously a good fit for movie searching. There's no Open Table-style partnerships to date, so Siri can't actually reserve you a ticket or buy you popcorn -- yet -- but if you're out and looking for some fun, Siri help you find a movie, tell you where it's playing and who's in it, and show you its trailer and ratings to help you make your ticket-buying choice.

iOS 6 is scheduled for release this fall, perhaps as soon as September 19.

For more on iOS 6 and Siri, check out:

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iOS 6 preview: Siri goes to the movies


Guess you have to take the little victories. Apple should worry more about making it better and more comparable to Google now since its not even close right now.

Their scope is quite different.

Google Now uses Google's Knowledge Graph(KG). It's basically linking right to the KG and spitting back the results. It's the back end of a search engine.

Siri is about understanding language and being able to interpret such language with accuracy. It isn't going to be the fastest because the ideal is to be flexible. Siri should never be linking to a huge monolithic KG. It should be leveraging a multi-faceted collection of Domains. This way i'm not beholden to Googles KG I can leverage so many other services.

If you think this is BS simply look at the huge amount of languages being supported by Siri in iOS 6. Note how there is Cantonese and Mandarin flavors depending on if you're mainland china or in taiwan.

This is what makes Siri amazing...not how fast it returns results from a monolithic KG.

Completely and utterly irrelevant. By your logic, I could say that Windows is far, far superior to the Macintosh because it works on a wider array of hardware. And that might even be true, from a certain technical standpoint, but it does not matter.

After input, a user searching for *anything* cares about two things and two things only 1) Accuracy, and 2) Speed. Whether you get your answers from one source or many means precisely diddly-squat unless it impacts #1 or #2. In other words, a user couldn't care less if you asked Wolfram Alpha and Google in order to come back with Scarlett Johansen's starring roles; they care that they get her correct credits, and as quickly as possible. If your flexibility negatively impacts #1 or #2, then from a user's point of view, it is a bad thing.

Whether something matters or not depends on the context. If the ability to run on multiple hardware platforms is important then Windows is far superior to Macintosh.

Agree on the speed and accuracy though me personally I'd like to pool from multiple resources not under the control of a single entity. Siri should be able to manage small and large domains rather than rely on one huge one that will deliver fast results but may struggle to cover the breadth of what people want.

"Agree on the speed and accuracy though me personally I'd like to pool from multiple resources not under the control of a single entity."

You are -- that entity is Apple, as the intermediator of all queries.

"rather than rely on one huge one that will deliver fast results but may struggle to cover the breadth of what people want."

It all gets back to #1 and #2. Where Siri is able to access information that Google cannot, they win #1, and should be applauded. Where they cannot, they lose #1, and should be held accountable. Whichever is slower, they lose #2. It's not a religious battle. It is simply what works. (Article linked in other post also compares responses to what they consider "common" queries.)

Siri and the Voice Search component of Google Now are directly comparable. The biggest feature of Google Now is not search, hiwever, but its passive mode - where it learns from you and prompts you with information before you think to ask for it, e.g. if it sees your next appointment is in a different location, it will pop up with a route and travel time, taking that-minute traffic into account. It remains to be seen how truly useful this will be, but Siri at this point has nothing comparable.

Ars has a pretty good writeup of Siri vs Google Now's voice search today, with some notes ar the end about passive mode.

To me that's a feature that gives good "demo" . I'm not sure people are so inept that they don't know when they should leave for an appointment. Most of use that do the daily commute give proper "padding" to our commute times. One issue with such technology is that battery life can take a hit if the OS is constantly checking traffic conditions and other "helpful" things to prompt me for . Google Now seems to be causing some additional battery drain over ICS.

"I'm not sure people are so inept they don't know when they should leave for an appointment."

Ineptness has nothing to do with it. If you have an appointment 10 miles away, it does not matter if you have driven it 5000 times, you do not know on the 5001st if there is an accident on the freeway adding 20 minutes to your normally padded commute time. Fine, you say, with a smartphone, you can look it up, just like all of us here do. BUT THAT'S THE POINT. With Google Now, you do not have to. If there is that accident, by the time you remembered to look up traffic conditions, it is too late.

The best human assistant would notify you before it became an problem, and that is what Google Now is attempting to emulate -- an assistant who takes that cognitive load off your plate, notifies you, and heads off some issues before they can become problems. Assuming the battery life hit is acceptable -- a big if, as you note -- that level of assistance is far superior to anything Apple is attempting to date.

True ineptness has nothing to do with this but it's a solution in search of a problem. will show estimated time on the web with traffic. So in essence this feature that supposedly puts Siri to shame is simply scraping the directions data and subtracting the estimated time from the calendar event. Not too difficult at all. Like I said in my initial post...Google is simply relying on their Knowledge Graph. They've presented data available in that graph via the Google Now voice input but they're not showing you as any semantic smarts or ability to handle multiple queries. From an AI level it's wholly unimpressive. Siri is not only managing multiple languages but dialects within those languages. (Spanish spoken by Mexico vs Spain, French spoken by France vs French Canadian) That is a far more difficult task that scraping traffic data and subtracting it from my calendar event.

I'm not sure if you are being deliberately obtuse here, but I'll keep trying.

The feature that puts Siri to shame (assuming Google pulls it off) is that Google Now anticipates. It answers questions it perceives you would need to ask, before you ask it. Combining traffic with appointment data is the one most cited, but hardly the only one -- in the linked article, they talk about giving you the time of the next train when your location indicates you are heading into a subway station. You can sneer that is also something small, but the point in these cases is that you do not have to ask for help; Google Now just helps you. The cumulative effects of these small conveniences adds up to an assistant doing a much better job of, you know, assisting you. In human terms, that is the difference between a secretary and an attentive executive assistant - a HUGE difference in quality.

Google Now's challenge is making a machine that understands what information is necessary, at what time, and in what context. That is an *ENORMOUS* challenge, one of the fundamental problems of AI research, and at least as complicated as NLP.

Google Now is attempting to tackle that large problem, and, if successful, will create a far more useful assistant. Apple is making no such attempt (at least not publicly), deciding to improve their assistant by focusing purely on best-of-breed NLP. It is not an insult to either company to point out that difference in focus.

I believe those features pale in comparison. I can already do what Google Now does with "If This Then That" recipes. Traffic, Weather and more. Google's manipulation of web API is already being done by plenty of startups.

What Google Now won't have in 2 months is the global coverage in languages and dialects. The first key to developing a powerful assistant is adept at understanding the input. Apple is clearly ahead at this point IMO

We'll have to agree to disagree. I currently find both "assistant" technologies severely lacking in the truly difficult areas which are nested commands, delegation, ability to respond based on different data returned etc. However I'm under no illusion that Google Now has magically erased any advantage of Siri and in turn I won't commit to saying Siri is beyond Google Now. Both need a quite a bit of work but i'm liking Siri's potential and architecture a bit more.

Yes, you can do anything you want if you initiate the action yourself. So what? To rewrite your quote:

"I can already do what Google Now does with "If This Then That" recipes"
"I can already do what Siri does by using more precise command recipes."

I'm sure this sounds absurd to you. It does to me, too. But that is essentially what you are arguing about with Google Now. If you think there is no value in an assistant having information ready before you ask for it, then you have a sadly limited understanding of assistants. There is a huge difference between somebody who makes you ask for something, and somebody who gives you what you need before you ask. Human assistants who can do the latter get paid *FAR* more, because people value those skills highly. Google can pull it off, their assistant capabilities may become similarly highly valued in the market.

That does not mean Google Now's anticipation has "erased" any NLP advantage of Siri, and it is tiresome that you keep implying I think so. They are completely orthogonal concerns. Rather, they are both things that people value highly; where each falls will vary from person to person. Apple is ahead in one, and Google in the other. It is not a personal affront to say as much. It is of concern to me (as an Apple fan), that Google is actively working on improving their NLP, whereas Apple does not appear to be working towards any predictive capabilities at all. It may simply be that Apple is characteristically tight-lipped, and they will surprise us soon, but in the meantime, it seems like a potentially big feature gap.

Really looking forward to using this on the new iPhone when it's released. This is going to get some heavy use by me.

Hehe Scarlett Johansson ;D

The question is, will Siri only do this movie thing with the iPhone 5 ONLY, or will the 4S be able to do this with iOS 6? I won't be jumping on the iPhone 5 because my contract isn't up until 2013 and I have no intention of paying full price for a carrier locked phone.

I know they have that air stream with the iphone to the itv, but they should make something for projection like the Samsung S3...The S3 is starting to really get to me I guess...just seems like a better phone.

This really is kind of worthless unless she can ORDER and book the tickets for me as well.

That's basically the END ALL be all feature. ORDER the movie tickets through Siri and this is something i would def use.