While Siri may have seemed gimmicky in the first versions, the technology has improved dramatically in the past year or so. Voice recognition is much better than earlier versions, as is iOS dictation. Siri is about to have some competition on your iPhone and iPad, and that’s a good thing.
Talk To Me, Sweetie!
Siri has a history. The technology came from a company Apple bought years ago. The name Siri is a short form of the Norse name Sigrid, which means beauty and victory; and was the intended name for the original developer’s first child.
Siri puts a bit of humanity into iPhone and iPad, a cleverly devised interactive intelligent personal assistant which learns as it goes, responds in context, and, as the technology becomes more embedded into iOS, more useful.
But Siri has rivals from Google and Microsoft. Google’s Now voice recognition technology works much like Siri and uses a natural language user interface which works on mobile Android devices, and within Google apps and Chrome browser.
Comparisons are easily made between the two– Siri and Now– but Google has yet to create a personality that matches what Apple embeds into Siri, which has more built-in actionable features on iOS devices. As a company, Google seems not to want human contact with users or customers, and that trait is displayed with Google Now which seems oddly devoid of personality.
On the other hand, Microsoft’s Cortana is another intelligent personal assistant that works and sounds much like Siri– on Windows devices. Obviously, Cortana’s best capabilities will be available on Windows devices, but Microsoft says the technology is coming to iPhones, iPads, and Android devices– as a downloadable app– later this year.
As usual, Microsoft has done a good job copying the best of Siri– personal interaction in a friendly way– while adding options and capabilities on Windows phones that Siri does not have on iPhone or iPad.
The Talking Battle
Competition is a good thing, and Google Now, Cortana, and Siri are in a feature fight to bring the most useful voice technology to customers. What is interesting here is that all three companies are bringing their respective voice recognition and personal intelligent assistant technologies to multiple platforms. Google Now runs on Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows, while Cortana runs on Windows but soon on Android and iOS devices.
It remains unlikely that Apple will port Siri to run on Windows or Android devices, so the company must ensure that Siri’s capabilities are more deeply embedded into iOS (and OS X) than either Now or Cortana, and performs better. The age of talking to a listening computer is here, and features are being added quickly, so we mere mortals need to get used to talking to the machines that will one day rule our lives.