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Apple’s Voice App Has Siri-us Implications for TV
So, I tested Siri, Apple’s iPhone4s voice recognition app, and here’s my conclusion: It ain’t a miracle app, but it raises the bar dramatically and sets the stage for a revolution in user interfaces for TVs, cars, and many other devices.
My tests weren’t exactly scientific — mostly involving shoving aside other customers at my local Verizon outlet and hogging the iPhone 4s for 15 minutes. But I think I got a good idea.
“Who is the president of the United States?” gave me a chart of all Barack Obama’s particulars. ”What’s the phone number for Apple?” surprisingly got me AppleOne Employment Agency in Los Angeles, but adding “Inc.” and “Cupertino” gave me the right answer. ”Where’s the nearest Chinese food in Culver City?” gave me maps and directions for places 3,000 miles away from my little town, but changing the place to “West Los Angeles” worked fine.
When I asked “Who’s your Daddy?” Siri replied “You are.” But, of course, that’s pre-programmed and I read that in a news story.
The point is, Siri is miles ahead of any other mobile phone voice recognition program on the planet. On my current iPhone4, if I ask it to call my local bike shop, I end up calling someone I haven’t talked to in 10 years. I ask it to play songs by “The Beatles” and it plays songs by “The Eagles”.
Siri’s accuracy level isn’t superb, but it’s a lot better than that. It means you can now realistically manage tasks in your car like playing your favorite songs, calling people, getting directions and sending simple messages to people without taking your hands off the wheel.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, this has huge implications for other devices. It means that Siri or a similar artificial intelligence-enhanced system, can easily manage your TV set. “Turn on the Dodgers game”, “Play the third episode of “Bones’ from this season” or even “Scan Netflix to see if it has the original ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie and if it isn’t rent it on iTunes” become totally doable.
It’s not much of a jump from there to “Turn on the lights”, “Set heat at 73″ and “Pre-heat my oven”. “Minority Report” had those kinds of things in 2040; we’ll have them now by 2020, and maybe a lot sooner than that.
But it’s TVs that could see the biggest initial impact after cars. The connected television — TV hooked to the Internet — is close to becoming ubiquitous, and Siri relies upon a Web connection to connect you with distant servers powerful enough to crunch your voice accurately.
Thus, it’s fair to say that several years after connected TV becomes ubiquitous, voice-controlled TV will become ubiquitous — especially if (as expected) Apple launches a Siri-equipped TV by the end of 2012.
Once that happens, I, for one, plan to throw my remote control in the trash.