If Siri is the key to an Apple TV, what will Google do about it?

Summary:All signs point to the cryptic comment recorded in the new Steve Jobs bio -- that he "finally cracked" the right way to create an Apple television -- referring to Siri as the key to a super-simple living room experience. The New York Times surmises that a voice-controlled TV is in Apple's future, with potentially revolutionary ramifications.

All signs point to the cryptic comment recorded in the new Steve Jobs bio -- that he "finally cracked" the right way to create an Apple television -- referring to Siri as the key to a super-simple living room experience. The New York Times surmises that a voice-controlled TV is in Apple's future, with potentially revolutionary ramifications.

It would be revolutionary, if it wasn't already possible to do some of those things with Google TV -- the original, much-derided one. The few Google TV owners out there can already download the Google TV Remote app for their Android phone or iPhone and use voice commands to search for content.

Likewise, Google has loaded voice search onto its Android phones long before Siri was added to the latest iPhone. But here's where the Apple difference comes into play. Google Voice Search is a feature, whereas Siri is being promoted as an experience. With its new ads, Apple is showing you how Siri can change your life, and presumably it will try to do the same thing when and if a Siri-powered Apple TV does eventually emerge. You can almost see the ads now: one good-looking person after the next turning the TV on, changing channels, searching for movies, recording shows, all with Siri.

This is precisely the Apple m.o. used to dominate the market with the iPod and iPad, which were able to defeat competing products that out-featured them. The iPhone might have done the same thing if Apple didn't roll it out with only a single carrier.

It doesn't have to be the same result if Apple does indeed introduce a Siri-flavored TV. That's because there aren't any signs that an Apple television will be released in the immediate future. It gives Google time to promote the voice capabilities of Google TV as it launches version 2.0 of the platform, as well as to work with TV manufacturers to bake those features into new sets. In essence, it has to think like Apple in order to preempt Apple. It ultimately won't matter to consumers that Google was first to let you use your voice to search for content through your TV, in the same way that it didn't matter that there were MP3 players before Apple introduced the iPod.

Google was helped enormously when Apple tethered its iPhone initially to AT&T, as it gave a huge opening to Android to provide a similar smartphone experience if you were with another carrier. Otherwise, Google hasn't done well when it's involved itself with hardware. But it has the blueprint, the critical feature, and the headstart it needs to beat Apple to the punch in the TV game.

Will it? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Google, Mobility

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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