We’ve seen the first rash of iPhone 4 reviews coming in, and they all agree on one thing: Siri is very impressive.
It works because it does several things all at once. It understands what you’re saying, irrespective of your accent, and without a lot of initial training. And it understands what you mean, because it has the built-in smarts to know that if you say “Tell my wife I’m running late,” you mean “Send a text message to this particular contact with text that says I’m running late.”
But this is just the start for Siri (which Apple’s acknowledged by calling it a beta). The iPhone 4S is the first Apple device that supports it – it certainly won’t be the last. Where might Siri go next?
First, let’s think about new features it might support on the iPhone 4S. In his review, Walt Mossberg points out that it doesn’t (yet) know about flight databases. But it knows that it doesn’t know, and tells him so when he tries to ask about flight data.
So the first, most immediate, improvements we can expect for Siri are a broadening of the databases it knows about and can query. Flights, yes, but other stuff too. Retail databases, perhaps? “Siri, is such-and-such a book already on my Amazon wishlist? If not, add it.”
Then there’s the possibility of opening Siri up to other applications on the device. Wouldn’t it be cool if Siri was able to provide help no matter where you are, or what app you’re using? Inside the App Store, you could say: “Siri, what do people think of this app? How often does it get updated? Has it ever been cheaper?” In Safari, you might say: “Siri, I want to read this page later,” – and Siri could add it to your Instapaper account.
How about in games? Contextual help and advice when you’re stuck on a level of Angry Birds. Or: You’re playing a first-person shooter, and now Siri is your companion in battle – “Siri! Cover me!” OK, I’m kidding, but you see my point: Siri is a technology just like any other. It will be upgraded and expanded, and knowing Apple, move in directions we weren’t expecting.
Finally, expansion beyond the iPhone 4S. Future iPhones and iPads too? I’d say that was a certainty. But what about desktop computers? Would people even want a voice-controlled assistant on their Mac?
I suspect yes, but for different purposes. Usage on the desktop would be less about managing appointments and messages, and more about managing documents, searching and navigating the web, and playing with media. Maybe soon you’ll be able to use Siri on your iThing to control your AppleTV. Sit back on the couch, raise your 4S to your lips and say: “Siri, I want to watch a movie.”
Over to you. Do you want Siri to grow like this? What apps would you like to use it with, and how? Do you want Siri on your Mac?