Apple’s Siri Delivers on the Sci-Fi Dream

It’s not often I fall asleep at my computer and usually it’s a large lunch with alcohol that’s to blame, but Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event had a similar soporific effect. For sure, no company does self-promotion like Apple, but the majority of Apple’s news would’ve merited little more than a press release from most organisations.

  • Apple sold lots of devices and lots of music.
  • The iPhone has had a spec bump.
  • The iPod Touch is available in white.
  • The iPod Nano is cheaper.
  • Social networking in the next version of iOS.
  • Apple is joining the cloud bandwagon.

And then there was Siri, the announcement of natural language voice control, and I was awake. Previously a dream of sci-fi, it could revolutionise the way all of us interact with our devices, not just mobile phones. Many of the demos have been business-orientated about meetings and reminders, but imagine being able to almost have a conversation with your iPhone that goes like this…I’m in my car, heading to meet friends in a new restaurant.

Me – “When am I meeting Janet and John for dinner?”
Phone – “7 pm.”

Me – “Can you direct me to the location?”
Phone – “Plotting GPS route now.”

Me – “How long will it take to get there?”
Phone – “35 minutes.”

Me – “Please text Janet saying that I will be 10 minutes late.”
Phone – “Yes.”

Awesome and from the demos of Siri, it doesn’t look like we’re terribly far away from the scenario above. If we take a term from a previous era, it’s delivering on the promise of a PDA – Personal Digital Assistant. Voice recognition and digital dictation have been around for some time, but being able to put an element of understanding into the process opens up new possibilities and that’s when Apple will deliver on the sci-fi dream.