Both the upcoming Xbox One from Microsoft and Moto X from Google feature "always listening" functionality for their voice-controlled, natural language interfaces. So what about Apple and Siri? Should the next iPhone and iPads have the microphone that you can also choose to turn on and set to perpetually listen and process, and keep ready for everything and anything we say, waiting to key onto a command phrase that signals we want to use it - "Okay, Google Now!" - er... - "hey Siri!"?
There's a power concerns, of course. Xbox One is plugged in and therefore has no battery life to worry about, but the iPhone or iPad, like the Moto X, would absolutely have to do everything it can to conserve power. Beyond the technical issues, however, are privacy concerns. The news is already filled with stories of governments and companies allegedly spying on our communications, do we really trust them with constantly enabled mics? And what about simple system errors? I've had bits of conversation accidentally sent to me from Google Glass glitches, imagine the potential for mistakes with mainstream systems?
On the flip side, "always listening" can also be incredibly convenient. When your hands are full, or your device is out of reach, being able to command it with words alone is beyond useful. Likewise, Siri is already behind Google Now when it comes to functionality, including localized voice parsing, predictive responses, and more, and not doing "always listening" would put it one more feature down on the parity list.
Do you think the upcoming iOS 7 on the rumored iPhone 5s should start playing catch up? Apple's offered exclusive new features on hardware before, so would an extra processing core for onboard and persistent voice processing be interesting to you? Would you want your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad mic to be flipped on all the time, and Siri to be "always listening" for your commands?