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From today's criticism to tomorrow's Siri operating system, Apple is best positioned make AI deeply personal, deeply integrated, incredibly consistent, fully mesh networked, and — eventually — into a full-fledged platform for the future.
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Where, no matter what I'm doing -- working, cleaning, cooking -- I can just ask Siri to turn on my lights, or check the temperature, or set an alarm, or play some music. I never have to stop doing what I'm doing. The more I use Siri, and the more I come to depend on Siri, the harder I'm hitting up against its limitations. These limitations are frustrating. Apple had such an early lead in voice-first interface.
I really think if Apple would spend some of its famous focus, if it would prioritize Siri...It is uniquely positioned to make Siri the next generation artificially intelligent assistant we've all been dreaming of -- since we saw "Her," or JARVIS, in "Iron Man" -- to lead in voice interface for the next decade the way it's led in graphical user interface and multi-touch interface for the last couple of decades.
To do that, it's going to have to take a few painful steps.
With HomePod, if you say, "Siri, play music I like," it's using all of the music that I've added to playlists, that I've liked, that I've asked it to play, to form a better more personal knowledge of me. This needs to extend to everything. This also means that we need voice ID, not just on iPhone or iPad, but everywhere that we have Siri. It can't know who we are if it doesn't know who it's listening to.
It's something Apple started to do with the iPhone 6S, but it didn't bring it to HomePod. In a personal device context, it's what allows for security and privacy. It knows to let my voice in and keep everyone else's voice out, but in a group environment it's what enables multi personal assistants.
It's what lets it know to read my messages to me but not my roommate's messages, to differentiate between a child's request for Raffi music [laughs] and my request for Public Enemy. Without being able to do that, not only can't it provide the services we need, it can't provide the understanding of us that the service needs. Apple prioritizes security and privacy, and it gets dinged for that.
It makes people think that it's impossible for the company to build deep knowledge about you. Here's industry Analyst, Carolina Milanesi.
Then, there's how they can learn. The level of data that is private, and then the level of data that is public, and how you take those two and use them together to give me the service that I want.
That's what Apple has to do in order to make Siri a next generation artificial intelligence.
So that we have a robust way of communicating with Siri. Right now, there's very little to show for it. It doesn't feel like enough resources, enough focus, is being devoted to SiriKit. That's a shame because Apple has a huge opportunity here. Amazon was first to market with Alexa Skills, but they've almost painted themselves into a corner. Here's how Brian Roemmele, Voice First advocate, explains it.
Is it an .IO domain? Or, is it an .AI domain? Or, is it .com? There's only one .weather domain on Alexa. There's only one .flower domain, or .Uber domain...that's a brand. Let's say, ".taxi." Let's say, ".pizza." Who owns the .pizza domain? Well, the first person that wrote the pizza app. Is that the best app? No, but they were there first. Should that dictate what should own the domain .pizza?
Well, no. OK then, we're going to take it away from the developer who worked their ass off to get that pizza app -- which was maybe the best that they can do -- and what, sell it and give it to Pizza Hut or Domino's? Is that fair?
It can be less verbose and more visual. If you're using a HomePod, or using CarPlay while you're driving, either you don't have a screen or Siri can't rely on the screen. It'll have to be less visual and more verbose. Lia Napolitano, who worked on Siri User Experience, explains it like this.
For the longest time, if you got Safari results from Siri it would say, "Here it is." That was it.
You realize that Voice is not perfect. Voice isn't great. We cannot read all of the web results in a perfect summarized way.
Some device that might even know more context about you, what room you're in...If it's got a camera in it, it might know a little bit more about you, what you're doing at the time, and feeding value back to you from a more contextual environment in this kind of ambient area. That could manifest itself in a speaker, in a wearable, in something that goes in our ears, in our cars.
It shouldn't have to push Calendar from HomePod to iPad. Calendar should work on HomePod. In instances where you're moving between devices -- for example, if you ask for directions on HomePod -- you're not going to take your HomePod in the car with you but you are going to take your iPhone. Any time you ask for directions HomePod should offer to push them to your iPhone.
The same way Apple Watch offers to push Google results to your iPhone. If the lack of a screen prevents HomePod from doing some advanced email function or calendaring function -- and it knows you have an iPad close by -- it should offer to push those tasks to your iPad.
The same way mesh routers around your house always make sure you have the best Internet connection depending on where you are, mesh Siri would make sure you always have the best functionality given whatever devices are available to it.
What Siri OS is about, it is an AI-mediated OS. It connects all of these different ontologies and taxonomies that we're building. Mac OS is going to tap into it, iOS is going to tap into it, but primarily, our voice is going to mediate it.
The next level would be we need to open this up to a developer community to a level that no other system's ever been opened up [inaudible 13:07] voice-based system. We need to be able to allow developers to, in real time, build what Workflow promises.
While screens aren't going away any time soon, it's inarguable in an increasing number of contexts, Siri has to become the primary way that we interface with our devices -- whether it's ambient computing at home or at work, whether it's controlling things as we drive or pilot in a not yet fully autonomous world, whether it's through the AirPods in our ears that lets us keep our phones in our pocket.
Or, whether it just allows us to have multiple levels of interactivity going on while our hands are otherwise busily interacting with our iPads or Macs. Siri OS is what's going to take us into the future. It's hard to imagine Apple launching the Mac as a platform with only a couple kinds of apps supported. It's hard to imagine the App Store launching for iPhone with only support for reminders or note-taking apps.
All of these things had to be robust platforms, so that we could enjoy robust functionality. Siri is the same thing. It's only when everyone -- from developers to users -- can do almost everything with Voice that they can do with touch or typing, that we'll start to understand the potential of this technology, that we'll start to achieve the next generation of computing.
I don't want to downplay any of this. It would take an incredible amount of work for Apple to make Siri into a proper platform. It took an incredible amount of work for Apple to make the Mac into a platform, to make iOS into a platform, and they did it because they knew the future of the company depended on it.
Not everyone's going to agree on this. Not everyone inside Apple is going to agree with this, [laughs] they fight and argue the same way that everyone outside Apple fights and argue...
It won't just be about not being competitive, it'll be about not being relevant in the next generation of super accessible, super personal computers. If there's anything that has dominated Apple's history, it's been their relentless drive to make evermore personal, evermore accessible computers.