What Siri Could Learn From The Xbox One
Siri is an “intelligent assistant” that was first introduced in iOS 5 on the iPhone 4s on October 12, 2011.
Since then, not many would argue it’s evolved much but with the release of iOS 7 coming this fall, I have hopes, dreams, desires… for Siri. I want it to be more easily accessible, less invasive of my other iPhone activities and I want Siri to become a more complex artificial intelligence. In order to make some of these improvements, Apple should take a nod from Microsoft’s new Xbox One.
I upgraded from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5 last December and was excited to have Siri. I enjoyed saying or asking something and getting an answer, rather than navigating menus or typing stuff in. Pretty quickly though, I found myself wishing I didn’t have to hold down the home button (or raise it to my ear as you can change in settings) in order to initiate it. It’s inconvenient.
Wow. Inconvenient? Are you joking me?
Think about it, though. You’re at home making your famous blueberry cobbler and need to do a simple conversion, but your hands are too messy to pick your phone up. Yeah, you could wash them, pick up the phone and then ask Siri but it would be more convenient to just ask, “Siri, how many cups are in a quart?” You’re driving your car and you want Siri to find a gas station. Rather than pick up your phone, hold the button and ask (just that simple act is now illegal in most parts of the US) you’d just have to say something like “Siri, take me to the closest gas station.”
How would this work? I’m no engineer but the new Kinect packaged with the Xbox One does this very thing. The Kinect knows your voice and so when you want to command it to do something there’s no button press involved. “Xbox, on” and it turns on.
Provided this works as advertised, there’s no reason this same idea couldn’t come to Siri. It may have been developed by Microsoft but these big tech companies always take from each other.
Another thing that bothers me is how Siri stops everything you’re doing to give you results. You’re playing your favorite iPhone game but are thinking about going outside for a run. In order to get the weather conditions Siri pauses and takes you out of your game to display the results.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could specify the way in which it presented the data? “Siri, tell me how hot it is outside.” Your game continues as Siri says “It’s a sunny 97 degrees outside.” Of course, you decide fuck that and continue playing.
When listening to music, Siri will temporarily pause it to give you results. “Siri, show me the baseball scores.” Your music keeps playing as if it never stopped and you get your scores on screen.
But, wait! If you’re listening to music how is the iPhone gonna hear you, ya turkey!? Again, the answer lies in the next Kinect. Since the Xbox knows what audio it’s putting out, it can filter those sounds and focus on the voice it knows- yours.
Those additions aside, what I really want is for Siri to become an artificial intelligence. A comprehensive, digital personality that, when I check my phone first thing Sunday morning in bed, asks me if I want my web comics or Facebook. It should understand my reading habits. When I click the power button during my work day I want it to know that I’m sitting on the crapper and need something brief and light to pass the time- maybe Dinosaur Comics, maybe a round of Plants vs. Zombies.
If it’s 3am on Friday night and I’ve been out partying, I want Siri to offer insight as to whether I should try Taco Bell’s new Smothered Burrito or just get a shake and cheeseburgers for dipping from Jack in the Box.
I want Siri to be more like a person in its conversations. Its voice is very robotic sounding and that definitely distracts the experience. It would also be nice if it could hold more unique, informal conversations that are specific to how I use my iPhone. ie. “Siri, I’m bored.” Well, the Yankees are playing right now. Do you want to listen to the game? “Yeah, SOUNDS good, haha!” That wasn’t funny (opens MLB app).
I think developers will make a huge push for AI implementation in our cell phones and Siri has incredible potential here.
Of course I could see not everyone will like the idea of a digital personality that seemingly knows everything you do on your phone. Would you embrace a digital sidekick?