What Siri Could Realistically Become Next Year
The idea of a 'virtual assistant' is an incredibly exciting one. A computer that can do all of our mundane tasks for us so we can enjoy life a little bit more. We see science fiction portrayals like "J.A.R.V.I.S" from ‘Iron Man’ or "Samantha" from the movie ‘Her’ where the A.I. can do all sorts of tasks and use natural language to interact with the user. We aren’t there yet but the next couple years could see some big advances for the virtual assistant. Here is what I think we could see Siri become in the near future.
Multiple Commands - It Doesn't Stop Listening While Active
Have you ever been talking to Siri and she cuts you off? It happens to me quite a bit, degrading the experience. What if while Siri was activated she didn't have to stop listening. You could say, "Turn on my 9:00 am alarm, message my sister that I'm going to be late for supper, and create a reminder to buy shark repellant." She parses each individual task and everything is done.
Customizable Default Apps
How do they get around the problem of similar inputs for multiple 3rd party apps? (Such as, “Play Mother Mother.”) What music app does you iDevice play it from? Customizable default apps would be my answer.
App Specific Commands
If Apple added 3rd party support how would it deal with all the new terms it had to add. Every app that wanted to use Siri would have to give specific phrases/terms that users could use. Multiple apps could have the same phrases and it could make parsing your requests much hard for Siri’s back-end. Rather than giving all apps access to Siri from anywhere, 3rd party apps could enable phrases only when the app is in the fore-front. For example, you’re writing something in Editorial and say:
- “Hey Siri, highlight all text and copy it.”
- “Hey Siri, how many words have I written this session?”
- “Hey Siri, get me the official link for product A.”
Another example, using Alien Blue:
- “Hey Siri, up vote this post.”
- “Hey Siri, open this link in Safari.”
- “Hey Siri, go to the front page.”
Installing 3rd Party System Wide Tools
What I mean is 3rd parties make Siri smarter by adding functionality to Siri herself. I recently came across an app called Ginger Page. It can parse your writing to correct grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. It's very buggy but amazing. What if Apple them allowed them to build it into Siri so you write your document in any app. Then say, "Hey Siri check my document for grammar and sentence structure." Siri works with Ginger Notes servers and sends the document off to be checked. It then offers you a custom window for making corrections. You still have to download the app and when making a query it looks at what apps you have installed to tell which one to use. That way if App A has the same functionality as App B Siri doesn't have to choose which to use.
What about crowd sourcing knowledge? Rather than using a Wikipedia approach where anyone can add knowledge I think it might be smart to require developers to submit information in a fashion that is easy to add to Siri and easy to fact check. So a developer who knows a lot about a topic like Apple itself could add that knowledge to Siri’s knowledge database. Then I could say, “What year do iPhone OS change to iOS?” This wouldn’t be limited to technologic subjects, it could be used for all subjects. So I could say, “Hey Siri, how do I change my oil.” It gives me step by step instructions, videos and a links to various sites with the information. The cool part would come when you’re under a car and say, “Hey Siri, I loosened the flux capacitor. What do I do next?” And it replies, “Grab a Phillips head screwdriver, and jam it into the engine bloc.” (As you can tell I know a lot about cars.)
I am a huge fan of Siri but it is a very new technology. In 20 years we will all laugh at how basic voice assistants were in 2014. I just hope the big tech companies will continue to focus on them. I feel like voice assistants could easily fall out of focus for Apple. It’s got so many different areas to work on Siri may not get the love I’d like it to. Here’s hoping iOS 9 is the year of Siri.