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View Full Version : [Editorial] Could Apple's 'Siri' be More Significant than We Realize?



dgstorm
11-08-2011, 04:14 PM
http://static.droidnetwork.net/dgstorm/df/star-trek-iv-1986-scotty-talks-to-mouse.jpg

After thinking deeper about Apple's new Voice Search Assistant, "Siri", I wanted to reflect a bit about this new "product" from Apple, and pose a question to the community. First, I'll actually throw the question out there, and then share some thoughts and industry reports that just might change your initial answer to the question. Here's the question: "Could Apple's Voice Search Assitsant, "Siri," that recently came with the iPhone 4S, be more significant than we realize, and pose a threat to Android?"

When I first heard about Siri, my initial reaction was, that's pretty cool, but... that's just a more refined version of apps that we already had on the Android. In fact, I even found and shared an interesting story in the news section about a group of guys that were able to create their own weak and slightly broken clone of Siri in about eight hours. Overall, it seemed like, case-closed, time to move on to more interesting Android related stuff, right?

But something kept nagging at the back of my mind. Taking a technological product and making it better, then, even more importantly, marketing it better, has always been Apple's strength. In reality, almost none of Apple's products was an original idea. Their ability to take an existing idea and improve it, then market it in an emotionally satisfying way to consumers is what has made them the powerhouse profit machine that they currently are. Siri, could very well be their next big thing... their next killer app.

From many of the reports I have read, most iPhone 4S using folks that show off Siri, don't really use it to a great degree other than to demo it to others, so it is possible that it could fade away like many "neato whizz-bang" features throughout the history of technology. However, as Siri is improved and people become more emotionally attached to it, that could change, and create an entirely new way to do searches. I mean, if you extrapolate out the potential, it's not too hard to imagine a future where we no longer need to type any searches and instead simply ask our "Jarvis-like" mobile personal super-computer any bit of info we want. Siri, may not have started the idea, but it could be what pushes it into the mainstream.

In fact, apparently, I was not the only one thinking about Siri in these terms. A new report from CNet shares that Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt, testified before a senate subcommittee that is investigating Google's dominance in Web search recently. He seems to be drawing the same conclusions that I did and had this to say, "Apple's Siri is a significant development--a voice-activated means of accessing answers through iPhones that demonstrates the innovations in search. Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information."

He further added that some publications have been calling Siri the "entry point" for Apple to get into the search business and become the "Google Killer." Mr. Schmidt further admitted that he was wrong about past statements when he suggested that Apple and Facebook are not strong competitors in the search business. He also said, "The importance of social networking to consumers' online experience has changed remarkably--even over the past year. Consumers are looking for answers when they conduct searches online, and social search has become a serious competitor in helping people find those answers online." Now, obviously some of what he was saying was designed to help bolster Google's defense during the Senate hearings, but that doesn't mean that it isn't valid. It is obviously on his mind so there must be some concern there.

Still, when you break it all down, what we may be seeing is a new evolution in the way we interface with our technology. Although voice recognition is nothing really very new, all the big companies from Microsoft, to Google, to Apple have been working hard to perfect the idea.

In the long run, my answer to my own question is: "It may be more significant that we realized, but it is not necessarily more of a threat to Android." Obviously, Siri could be a new avenue for Apple to compete in the technological marketplace, and not just in mobile devices, but in search engine technology as well. However, we don't really think that Google is going to sit on their hands and do nothing about it, do we? In fact, one could argue that Android is simply another step in the evolution of technology. Ultimately, competition in the marketplace causes technology to evolve faster, and as long as companies stay hungry for our business, then technology will continue to evolve and consumers will win.

Perhaps it is just the eternal optimist in me, but I think that Siri is actually a good thing for consumers and even Google. In the long run it might light a fire under them to make Android, and their other products, even better. Then, pretty soon, we might all be having conversations with our Androids instead of having to type into them.

How would you answer this question?

Source: Android.net (http://www.android.net/forum/android-news/67091-editorial-could-apples-siri-more-significant-than-we-realize.html)
Source for Eric Schmidt's Statements: CNet (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57319369-93/schmidt-sees-siri-as-a-threat-to-googles-search-business/)

popcenator
11-08-2011, 04:27 PM
Very well written, and a good perspective.

Leach19m
11-08-2011, 05:54 PM
I wish I had siri yesterday! I was driving home and realized I needed some dried sprigs of a few herbs for an infused olive oil but using the voice commands to search was not very easy and I ended up having to give up on it because, even though I could talk to it, I had to read the results and try to sift through results,.which also included going from app to app, all while driving....which isn't recommended.

(V) {;,,;} (V) < Woopwoopwoopwoopwoop
Scuttering along like Zoidberg, on the move

Usquanigo
11-09-2011, 08:08 PM
I read that about Google being scared by Siri, but it was from Johnny Evans who is the mose derranged Apple zealot you can imagine, so I blew it off. However, while it seems it was actually said (unlike I thought), I see that it is just as 'real' as I thought. He was on trial for Anti-Trust issues (dominance, whatever you want to call it). Of course he's going to point to a competitor and make them seem like a much bigger deal, even a threat just to get the heat off his back.

That said, I did post in a thread in the Apps sub-forum about this. Someone posted another Siri counterpart (near as I can tell Iris was meant to be a joke and nothing more, this other one was meant to be serious and cross-platform) - We have always been able to do nearly all of this. Between in-built voice commands (for the phone), voice to text, and Google Voice Actions, it's always been there. But as you (OP) pointed out, Apple refined it by conglomerating it to a centralized thing, and added feedback to try to hook people's emotions. And just having the Apple logo is often enough (for some god forsaken reason).

However, the same could have been said of the iPhone and iOS. Nobody seriously beleived that anyone could pose a threat to a company and device that blew MS completely out of the water and made RIM look like they were using tin cans and carrier pigeons, much less Google. And yet....:greendroid: (here we are)

Again, the same thing was said about the iPad, and now nearly all the pundits are saying that Android will not only overtake, but trounce iOS in that segment too.

Face-Time was a "huge deal" that could "revolutionize" the way we communicate, but turned out to be nothing more than the gimmick many of us saw it for being.

Ditto "retina display".

Now Siri.

Voice control is something not too different from video phones. It's been a dream for ages, but just never takes off. It's been around in various forms for decades even and people just don't care.

I submit, in fact, that the reason Apple did this was because it had nothing else. The iPhone as a hardware platform will never again be the best thing on the market. Android will always be a step or so ahead because of the number of players in the game and their release schedules. Even WP7 will meet or exceed whatever iP is on the market at any given time. So they had no hardware gimmicks to pull off (we have screen size, removable battery and storage, rivalling or exceeding resolution now, FFCs, even 'horsepower' advantages, and the OS UI has certainly caught up with iOS from a usability standpoint [reliability is down to devs and the open market]), so they had to play their trump card, treating the owner/user like an untrained ape and make the device do more of he work while removing more of the interface controls.

They did it well. They always do.

But as noted, it's just another neato gimmick. People only show it off, and already it has become a joke in the video and meme worlds.

Issues of accuracy aside, even if it's 100% accurate, do you really want everyone within earshot to know what you are searching for or writing? Do you really want to work in an office where everyone is chattering away at their computers? Think of how often people are on their smart phones now - public transport, libraries, malls, movies... literally everywhere. Imagine the masses all interacting through voice, rather than touch or typing. It would be maddening, nevermind the privacy issues (people listening to you dictate).

No matter how good they make it, even if it remains and becomes more common (rather than going away), it won't become the primary input method. Silent interaction will always be preferred.

Now, the "digital assistant" part is separate, nothing says you can't just type to it, but that too has been around forever. And if you aren't having a spoken conversation with it, why would it have benefits to simply opening your calendar app yourself? (since you'd have to open an app anyway, wether to tell it to work with another app, or for you to work with the end app yourself)

Personally, I see voice input being a rarely used, though commonly available option and ultimately, no big deal. Even so-called "digital assistants", they will either be toys that only a percentage of people use, or they will become a commodity as the OS itself evolves into that (with very potentially not-so-good results).

SingingSabre
11-10-2011, 08:08 AM
I recently gave up Android and went to iPhone with the 4S.

The more I use Siri, the more I am likely to use it again. Yesterday, while driving back from an appointment, I texted back and forth with my girlfriend without touching my phone. Not only was Siri able to transpose texts without me talking like a robot, but she--er--it was able to read texts to me from my girlfriend.

Siri isn't a small voice control and search option. It's a true voice interface with the phone that is in it's infancy.

Regarding facetime and the retina display referenced in the previous post:

FaceTime helps me keep in touch with my brother and sister in-law. They just had a kid and we get to chat face to face and see the baby. It will help me plan photoshoots with models if we don't have time to get coffee so I can figure out what look will work best for them. It helps me catch up with old friends who are travelling abroad. FaceTime isn't a gimmick and more people use it than you might expect.

The retina display... My iPhone's display is crisper, richer, and more immersive just for its colors and sharpness than my Droid, Droid X, and especially my Droid X2 ever were. This is a big deal for me.

holly
11-10-2011, 08:58 AM
Glad you found a phone you enjoy. I'm not sure why some are so quick to judge a feature that is just a few weeks old - and still in development. As Android perfects its own voice actions I look forward to using it more and more.

Sent from my non-rooted dx

Usquanigo
11-10-2011, 09:49 AM
I recently gave up Android and went to iPhone with the 4S.

The more I use Siri, the more I am likely to use it again. Yesterday, while driving back from an appointment, I texted back and forth with my girlfriend without touching my phone. Not only was Siri able to transpose texts without me talking like a robot, but she--er--it was able to read texts to me from my girlfriend.

Siri isn't a small voice control and search option. It's a true voice interface with the phone that is in it's infancy.

Regarding facetime and the retina display referenced in the previous post:

FaceTime helps me keep in touch with my brother and sister in-law. They just had a kid and we get to chat face to face and see the baby. It will help me plan photoshoots with models if we don't have time to get coffee so I can figure out what look will work best for them. It helps me catch up with old friends who are travelling abroad. FaceTime isn't a gimmick and more people use it than you might expect.

The retina display... My iPhone's display is crisper, richer, and more immersive just for its colors and sharpness than my Droid, Droid X, and especially my Droid X2 ever were. This is a big deal for me.

In many of your other posts you've been an apple shill, so it's absolutely no surprise to see you jump ship and then make a post like this.

FaceTime is a gimmick. It only works with iPhones and only on Wi-Fi. People don't want to video phone, they want to text or talk, they don't want to spend time trying to get decent or look good for the camera. Your example does not change any of that. There will always be a fringe that really jumps on and clings to something, but that says nothing about the masses. Further, my other point also stands, plenty of Android phones now have FFCs (front facing cameras), so if IF one wanted to call it an advantage (despite the fact that it wasn't), it's now moot.

If you claim that the display on the DX was not crisp enough, then you can not use an iPad. Anybody who's ever used an iPad loves it and thinks it looks great. The DX has greater pixel density (resolution per area of screen size) than the iPad does. Nevermind that the backend (the 3G network, and even the internet itself) is not set up for resolution of that level. "Retina display" is an advertising gimmick that only apple fanboi's pretend means something. And yet, once again, several current or soon to be shipping Android handsets have resolutions that dwarf the retina display. Also, large screen beats small screen. Even if it's "crisper" on a small screen (mostly _because_ it's a small screen), you do less scrolling and less zooming on a larger screen.

Funny how you claim that siri isn't just a voice and search option, but then state that it IS a voice control. You add "for the phone" like that means something different. It does not. Android has nothing that will talk back to you or ask for second level input, ok, but break it down, what is really going on, you speak, the phone performs something. We have that. We had it first. NBD.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not trolling against the iP, nor carry any grudge against it. Until I started doing research to buy a smart phone, I was convinced it was the best thing out there and that nothing else came close. Once I did the research however, I realized that I wouldn't buy one. That said, it's still a good device. It's not as good as the DX, but it's damn close. And there are many people I would recommend the iP4 to. I don't know much about the 4S beyond the addition of Siri, Apple never advertises that. But it's irrelevant because I am not looking for a new phone right now. (and one would have to comapre it to the Bionic, Razr, G-Nex and whatever else) I think the iPad is great too. Again, I would prefer something with true 16x9 aspect ratio (either Galaxy Tab or Xoom), but as a device, it's damned cool and works great, and there are people I would recommend it for. In fact, I'm actually not an Android fanboi. I like it, I think it's cool and I do love my DX, but I'm agnostic. Prior to getting one I wanted a Blackberry Torch 9800 or an iPhone4. I've liked WP7 ever since I first saw it, and the more I see of it, the more I like it. I really hope they continue to build that and come to VZW so I can have it as a potential option when the time comes.

I know that's all OT, sorry, but I don't want Apple guy trying to claim that I'm just hating on Apple or blinded by Android.

SingingSabre
11-10-2011, 11:47 PM
In many of your other posts you've been an apple shill, so it's absolutely no surprise to see you jump ship and then make a post like this.FaceTime is a gimmick. It only works with iPhones and only on Wi-Fi. People don't want to video phone, they want to text or talk, they don't want to spend time trying to get decent or look good for the camera. Your example does not change any of that. There will always be a fringe that really jumps on and clings to something, but that says nothing about the masses. Further, my other point also stands, plenty of Android phones now have FFCs (front facing cameras), so if IF one wanted to call it an advantage (despite the fact that it wasn't), it's now moot.If you claim that the display on the DX was not crisp enough, then you can not use an iPad. Anybody who's ever used an iPad loves it and thinks it looks great. The DX has greater pixel density (resolution per area of screen size) than the iPad does. Nevermind that the backend (the 3G network, and even the internet itself) is not set up for resolution of that level. "Retina display" is an advertising gimmick that only apple fanboi's pretend means something. And yet, once again, several current or soon to be shipping Android handsets have resolutions that dwarf the retina display. Also, large screen beats small screen. Even if it's "crisper" on a small screen (mostly _because_ it's a small screen), you do less scrolling and less zooming on a larger screen.Funny how you claim that siri isn't just a voice and search option, but then state that it IS a voice control. You add "for the phone" like that means something different. It does not. Android has nothing that will talk back to you or ask for second level input, ok, but break it down, what is really going on, you speak, the phone performs something. We have that. We had it first. NBD.Don't misunderstand, I'm not trolling against the iP, nor carry any grudge against it. Until I started doing research to buy a smart phone, I was convinced it was the best thing out there and that nothing else came close. Once I did the research however, I realized that I wouldn't buy one. That said, it's still a good device. It's not as good as the DX, but it's damn close. And there are many people I would recommend the iP4 to. I don't know much about the 4S beyond the addition of Siri, Apple never advertises that. But it's irrelevant because I am not looking for a new phone right now. (and one would have to comapre it to the Bionic, Razr, G-Nex and whatever else) I think the iPad is great too. Again, I would prefer something with true 16x9 aspect ratio (either Galaxy Tab or Xoom), but as a device, it's damned cool and works great, and there are people I would recommend it for. In fact, I'm actually not an Android fanboi. I like it, I think it's cool and I do love my DX, but I'm agnostic. Prior to getting one I wanted a Blackberry Torch 9800 or an iPhone4. I've liked WP7 ever since I first saw it, and the more I see of it, the more I like it. I really hope they continue to build that and come to VZW so I can have it as a potential option when the time comes.I know that's all OT, sorry, but I don't want Apple guy trying to claim that I'm just hating on Apple or blinded by Android.1. I am not an apple shill. Maybe you have only seen my last two or three posts here. Maybe you haven't seen the comprehensive guide to the DX camera I wrote for this site. I loved my DX up until Gingerbread. Calling me an Apple shill is an ad hominim attack meant to distract from what I said an debase me without qualification. 2. The iPhone has a display crisper than the DX, iPad, and any other display on the market. Prove me wrong. Do it with facts. I'm not an Apple guy. I'm a guy who endorses what he feels is the superior technology. Oh, I unplugged my phone at 6:30, used it all day until 10:45 tonight and am at 33% battery. One of the many reasons I left my DX. I don't care what you use. Just don't make up crap about me or try to debase something I said with opinions you can't back up. I miss the good days of my DX, but oh well.

Leach19m
11-11-2011, 01:39 AM
Alrighty, now that that's out of the way, lets keep this civil and on topic. Keep in mind, even though this is a DX forum, people are more than welcome to have different preferences for phones, and are more than welcome to express that here. However, we do not allow any personal attacks or name calling for whatever reason. Please, feel free to continue to discuss the topic of this thread, but keep all personal attacks out of it or I forsee possible infractions and a closed thread in the near future.

fezrock
11-11-2011, 02:01 AM
Alrighty, now that that's out of the way, lets keep this civil and on topic. Keep in mind, even though this is a DX forum, people are more than welcome to have different preferences for phones, and are more than welcome to express that here. However, we do not allow any personal attacks or name calling for whatever reason. Please, feel free to continue to discuss the topic of this thread, but keep all personal attacks out of it or I forsee possible infractions and a closed thread in the near future.

Got that right!

schluety
11-15-2011, 05:03 PM
It's seems so amazing. We used to have to text using a 1-9 dial pad, then they invented qwerty keyboards for our phones to type texts. Then they invented apps to read you texts and apps where you could talk into it to make a text. Now if they can make something where we talk into it and it instantly steams our voice to the person on the other end. and then we hear a response back almost instantly in what sounds like the voice of the person on the other end! brilliant! lol.