Apple iPhone 5's 'Assistant' feature: Making voice command cool?

Summary:Apple is reportedly prepping a voice system dubbed Assistant in the iPhone 5. Can Apple make voice recognition cool?

Voice recognition and commands have gone so mainstream that you can't call any company without first talking to some robot. Meanwhile, voice commands are found in your car---Ford Sync---phone via Google voice search and other areas.

What has been missing is that emotional appeal and the mainstreaming of voice technology?

Can Apple change that? 9-to-5Mac is reporting that Apple will include an iPhone 5 feature called Assistant that's based on its Siri acquisition. Assistant goes like this:

  • Hold down the home button for a couple of seconds.
  • Say or pick a command.
  • Voice is integrated with all the apps of the iPhone. You can send a text, make an appointment, ask for directions and do other handy things.
  • The integration is supposed to be the big selling point.

Once you think through this Assistant feature---some early reaction is that Android already does a lot of this, but it's not integrated throughout the phone---the long-term question is whether Apple makes voice technology cool.

Let's face it: The technology from companies like Nuance Communications is stellar. Yet, the implementation of that technology is just missing something.

Apple can change all that with the iPhone 5 and some cool commercials. Can you forge an emotional attachment to your assistant, the cousin of that annoying robot you deal with on customer service calls?

Add it up and there's a big race to voice computing interfaces. It's going to be fun to see what company winds up making voice technology something your mother will love.


Topics: Telcos, Apple, Enterprise Software, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones, Innovation


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.