Tag Archives | Siri

How Disappointing: Google’s Andy Rubin Dismisses Siri

I’m having trouble wrapping my head around Andy Rubin’s dismissal of Siri, the virtual assistant built into Apple’s iPhone 4S. Here’s what Rubin, Google’s senior vice president of mobile, told Ina Fried during the Asia D conference in Hong Kong:

“I don’t believe that your phone should be an assistant,” he said. “Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone.”

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Siri Brings Apple’s Vision Full Circle

In 1987, then CEO of Apple John Sculley described a device known as the “Knowledge Navigator” in his book Odyssey. Described in its simplest terms, it was a personal assistant that allowed the user to navigate information in an interactive way. The user would be able to speak in natural language, and the artificial intelligence would reason out the intention of the user. Watch it in action in this vintage Apple-produced video.

As you can see, the interaction is very human-like. The command-based method of interaction –which is so common in the voice recognition platforms of today — is nowhere to be found. This method is just not the way the average person thinks. While us techies may think in this manner, everyday consumerS would be more comfortable talking to the device because they don’t have to remember a set of commands.

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Apple Buys Siri

Speaking of mixed feelings about acquisitions: Apple is buying Siri, a very neat iPhone app that does a surprisingly good job of letting you search for local information using your voice. If it’s anything like every other Apple acquisition, nobody involved is going to explain the rationale.

Optimistic scenario: Siri’s technology gets built into Safari and other apps on the iPhone and iPad. Pessimist’s scenario: Like the fabulous unreleased LaLa for iPhone, it just goes into limbo. (Actually, that’s too pessimistic: I’m still hopeful that LaLa-based goodness will be part of the next major upgrade to iTunes.)


Siri, a Promising “Virtual Personal Assistant” for the iPhone 3GS

Siri, an ambitious new free iPhone application, is now available in the App Store–and it’s not Just Another iPhone Application. Based on $150 million of research by the Stanford Research Institute and DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency), Siri aims to be a “virtual personal assistant” that understands your spoken requests–“best sushi in san francisco,” “remind me to order flowers,” “order tickets to a show at the Castro Theater”–and takes action on your behalf.

Retrieving information by voice on the iPhone is nothing new–Google’s Mobile App is just one of several that let you search the Web by speaking. But Siri isn’t Web search. It’s all about actions you want to take, and it returns information and opportunities to do things, not search results. And it uses the iPhone’s GPS to refine its responses to your local area.

(Right now, Siri is designed for the iPhone 3GS; versions for the iPhone 3G and iPod Touch, as well as other mobile platforms, are in the works.)

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