Apple needs to get serious about Siri

Apple needs to get serious about Siri

Summary: It's not TVs or games consoles that we'll be seeing from Apple in 2013, but a tighter integration of its cloud services into its products. One cloud service that will see improvement is Siri.

TOPICS: Apple, iOS

My guess is that 2013 will be the year that Apple focuses on services rather than new hardware. Rather than TVs or games consoles, we'll see Apple work to refine and more tightly integrate its cloud services across its range of products.

One cloud service that I think Apple needs to work on is Siri, the voice-controlled assistant bundled with every iPhone and iPad.

Siri is interesting because it is both a clever idea, and a dumb one. It's clever because it is one of the best implementations of voice-control technology that I have used, but on the flipside it's dumb because as soon as you venture outside of the narrow set of features it offers, Siri quickly becomes annoying and useless.

Siri is, as Apple points out on its website, a beta product. It's promising, but it has a long way to go. While jokes and banter are fun, they get real old, real fast.

A job posting on LinkedIn suggests that Apple is keen to make Siri better. The Cupertino giant is looking for a "uniquely creative individual" to help "evolve and enrich" Siri. (Update at 10:15 a.m. ET: While LinkedIn still has the job posting on its Web site, Apple has since removed the posting from its site.)

"Siri’s known for 'her' wit, cultural knowledge," explains the posting, "and zeal to explain things in engaging, funny, and practical ways. The ideal candidate is someone who combines a love for language, wordplay, and conversation with demonstrated experience in bringing creative content to life within an intense technical environment."

Given that Siri is now installed on millions of iPhones and iPads, Apple has undoubtedly collected a lot of information on how people use -- and more importantly, want to use -- Siri. Apple will be able to use this information to extend Siri's capabilities, and allow it to better understand how iPhone and iPad owners communicate with it.

See alsoHow to turn your tablet into a mobile workstation

It's quite possible that Siri will break free from the confines of iOS and find its way onto Macs, and possibly even Apple TV devices.

The more devices Siri is installed on, the more people use it, the more traction the technology gets, and the more user telemetry Apple receives. There's no reason why Siri should not be made available on other Apple devices, and I suspect that as Apple works to integrate iOS and OS X, Siri is one technology that will make the platform jump.

Siri also needs to break free from being confined to Apple apps. Making Siri available to third-party app developers would extend the technology and make it more useful. There's no doubt that app developers could do some really cool things with Siri, and that opening up the technology via the software development kit (SDK) would result in completely new and innovative apps.

This would also mean that developers could create apps that were unique to Apple's App Store because no similar technology would be available on other platforms. This could give Apple a much-needed edge in its battle against Android.

I've no doubt that you'll be hearing a lot more from Siri this year.

Topics: Apple, iOS

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  • I don't find Siri really all that limited to use

    though it is apparent that she has been approached with a lot of specific use cases - there's a semantic search engine that drops you through (a) Apple's resources in Maps and other apps, (b) Wolfram Alpha, (c) Do you want me to search the web for that?

    What it does do is allow you to control the phone with English language voice commands. It is very good at figuring out what you are asking it to do, and there's only a handful of things on the device that you can't kick up with a voice command using any syntax you like (shutdown, searching the app store, and other system operations you'd think it could do, but doesn't.)
    • Well

      If they don't tweak the results of Wolfram alpha, it could have been a great experience, but they enrich the result set and sometimes that brings value addition, but most of the times, it is frustrating. But definitely Apple has a lot of work to do to make it a very successful and rational integration within the iOS experience.
      Ram U
  • Microsoft got this one right

    "Making Siri available to third-party app developers would extend the technology and make it more useful. There's no doubt that app developers could do some really cool things with Siri, and that opening up the technology via the software development kit (SDK) would result in completely new and innovative apps."

    If you want to see examples of this, look no further than Microsoft and WP8. I have quite a few apps where I can talk to them from my bluetooth headset without launching them first. The voice recognition is fantastic. Unfortunately, you can only use WP8 voice recognition to do useful things, you can't ask it to open the pod bay doors. Silly Microsoft, giving users useful features instead of useless gimmicks.

    "This would also mean that developers could create apps that were unique to Apple's App Store because no similar technology would be available on other platforms."

    Right, no similar technology is available on other platforms. You could only believe this if you knew nothing of other platforms. Oh wait, you don't.
    • Get a life or a job Toddy

      Your lines are old and very boring...
      • Thanks for the personal attack

        It only shows you had nothing better you could come up with to counter my points, thus validating everything I wrote.

  • Apple needs to get serious about Siri

    Surely you can't be serious. Siri was a dead end project the moment it was announced. Sure it was fun for people to use at first but I don't know of a single person who continues to use it. Siri was nothing more than a distraction for the underwhelmingness of the iPhone. Apple would be fools to waste any more time and energy on Siri.
    • I agree, just another in a long line of apple fails

      siri, maps, ping.

      The fail is epic.
      • I guess Apple have one more fail to add

        You, you plank. Traffic, go, play, soon.
    • I use it - why wouldn't I?

      Saying, "Siri, set a timer for 10 minutes" is a heck of a lot easier than unlocking the phone, hunting down the clock icon, going to the timer tab and doing it there. People aren't used to voice command systems on any of the major device OSes, but in my opinion, it is their loss. They are quite useful.
  • Here's Apple's next iDevice...

    The iTV. Yeah, I know the Apple TV discussions get tiring and worn out. But the iTV could work.

    Keep Siri, and keep iOS and keep the iCloud and keep the whole Apple ecosystem.

    Apple already has TV like capabilities on their iPhones and iPads, and even on their Macs.

    So, why not Apple do what they did with the iPod, which was used to created the iPhone (yeah, I know I might have things backwards there, but, follow along anyway), which was used to create the iPads. Now, all that's needed is for the iPad to become the iTV. Basically, up-size the iPad to TV dimensions, and the TV could have the much higher resolutions which Apple puts on their larger monitors and on their Macs. Heck, give the iTV the super-resolutions being disclosed at CES this year, with 4k like in the LG TVs announced this year. Then, the internals of the TV could be composed of iPad capabilities, but with the larger screens and much higher resolutions taken into consideration.

    Then, Siri and other iOS components, could be used for control of the iTV, and it could serve as a tablet and a PC and a TV and a movie player and a web browser and anything else that computers and TVs are known for.

    The remote for the TV could be Siri spoken commands, such as "Siri, I want to watch a movie tonight", or "Siri, put on American Idol", or "Siri, what programs did I record last week that I haven't watched yet?", or "Siri, bring up my music files for browsing", or "Siri, find me a good book to read about growing plants", or "Siri, fire up my favorite browser" (it doesn't have to be Apple's browser), or "Siri, did I get any messages today?", or "Siri, bring up CNN" (or your favorite news channel, or "Siri, record XFactor for this week", or "Siri, bring up the menu of programs for this week", or "Siri, what are the hot topics this week in Washington?", or "Siri, get my sister up on Skype", or "Siri, bring up a mortgage calculator", or "Siri, bring up my bank account at Chase", or "Siri, what is the best car I can buy for $25,000?", or "Siri, give me a listing of romantic movies", or "Siri, I want a few lessons in French today".

    Basically, Apple could create a TV which isn't just a TV, and is a general purpose device, which plays like a TV, but also does the work of heavy duty computers, and tablets and many other devices, all rolled-up into one. That iTV would have telephone/cellular connections, cable connections and broadband internet connections, and wi-fi to talk to other nearby devices. However, the components had better be easily maintainable, and easily upgradable, and guaranteed for a long period of time, instead of just the standard 1 or 2 year periods that come with technology. Some of those iTVs would need to come with lesser HD resolutions, since not everybody will be able to pay for the newer resolutions disclosed at CES this year.

    Such a device could come in many different prices, and with slightly different options. Prices could be scary, initially, but, once people realize that, it's many devices in one, and with capabilities not available in any current single device, then, people might want to get one, even if they put it on a credit card.

    BTW, that's not a device which would be limited to Apple's creation, since most other technology companies might have the technology available to them, where they could create their own devices with similar capabilities.
  • "Beta"?

    I think "Beta" at Apple means nothing more or less than "not working so well yet". After all, SIRI was an independent release in the app store back in 2010. The Apple version has been out since October of 2011. It's been the centerpiece of much if not most of Apple's iPhone advertising. Even Microsoft looks at that as a suspicious "Beta" period... and they're the company that's distorted the original meaning (a beta test was originally a outside-the-company test of a feature-complete product, started only when internal development was essentially done and internal debugging was no long yielding significant new bugs).
  • Siri has many strengths

    Siri is amazing. I use it constantly throughout the day to make appointments, dial numbers, send and receive text messages. Start any program, dictate email replies.... All of this with uncanny accuracies. I do all of these things while on the go without two hands available. Even solve quick math problems in a business conversation. I'm an older person and have my iPhone and iPad mounted on my electric scooter(Ram Mounts). I am traveling down the sidewalk taking care of business as I go. I run an Internet company out of Honolulu with worldwide sales so I need to stay connected. Having fun and feel like a kid.

    For searching the web I say "start google search" and use google's voice search. For everything else I use Siri. You just have to know the strengths of the software you are using. I hope you all enjoy and appreciate the resources we have now days.
  • Siri is another of Apples Gimmicks

    Siri is the gimmick that is saving Apple from drifting faster into the abyss it's created with their love of suing the competition.

    Android v. 4.2.x is hands down a superior smartphone OS.

    Google's brilliant move in creating the Nexus brand, allows them to roll-out the pure Android experience for all to enjoy. Now they need to get the supply side up to speed, so more people can buy the Nexus 4, 7 and 10
  • room for improvement – sure

    But sired basically brings a whole new interface to our devices.