Apple needs to get serious about Siri

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.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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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.

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