Apple may not have formally said it, but they did have a “one more thing yesterday.” They pulled Siri from up their sleeves, which many technology pundits had predicted (kudos to 9to5mac.com on the original scoop). What is surprising to me is that a lot of people appear to be under the impression that Siri is a parlor trick that you can use to show off your phone. This is not voice control, this is not FaceTime, this isn’t even the Compass app. This is something you will use every day and come to rely on.
Siri is real; it is a revolution though it may seem gimmicky until it’s perfected. Apple has slapped a beta label on it, which it does not do all willy nilly (you probably know who I’m hinting at). Siri is light years beyond voice control, it’s natural language processing is proof of that. Siri is smart, it can respect your associations, you tell Siri that someone is your mother, it understands. That’s the part of Siri that makes it special, it’s there to help you. If you tell it to change your meeting at 3pm when you don’t have one, it understands that you made a mistake, and instead of telling you, I have no knowledge of a meeting at 3; it will look at your schedule and say, are you sure you don’t mean the one at 2pm, or 4pm? That’s just dipping your toe into the pool when you think about what it can do, and when it learns even more and gets even smarter, it won’t just be scheduling a meeting for you. It will be able to find out where you want to go on vacation, book your hotel and plane tickets based on what airline you like to fly and which hotel you find pleasant. After it’s done all that work, it will suggest for you an itinerary based on what your interests are, knowing whether your favorite band is in town, or if you really just want to go bar hopping.
This is the step that Apple is taking to become more than a hardware company. The iPhone is one fun toy. You can play games, do real work, and can even create content on it. But how long will that gravy train ride last? iCloud and Siri bring Apple to the next step of computing, where we enter a more device agnostic environment. It’s easy to copy a phone’s form factor or specs, but very few companies have the wherewithal to bring together the cohesive vision that Apple is pushing. Consumers in 2 years will want to get their phone because of what it can do for them, not because your wife will love the Tegra 2 chipset.
Siri is a step towards the world of the Jetsons becoming a reality. I’m just giddy to see technology heading in this direction and am really looking forward to Skynet… I mean Siri.
Of note, Steve Jobs passed away while I was writing this post. To quote @gabrielroth
“The corporation is the most powerful tool we’ve ever invented. It’s typically used as a club or a lever. Steve Jobs used it as a paintbrush.”
This is all part of the grander vision that Steve Jobs saw, and hopefully some day we can all live it.