Teach An Old Digital Assistant New Tricks
When rumors hit the webz of Apple purchasing Siri I was very excited. I was already privy to the innovative assistant that could understand natural language butI was very excited because I believed that Apple would take it far, far further. Nope. It was essentially the same thing just embedded in the phone with a few new tricks. Other than the poor response time, however, Siri still impressed the masses but soon the party tricks she offered lost their novelty. When APple debuted Siri they described it (her?) as a personal assistant. One that lives inside your phone. It feels more, though, like a personal assistant that you have to call. Now that the data centers are more stable there must be interesting things that can be done with Siri to make it feel like something that makes your day smoother. Here are a few that I wouold like to see.
- Wake Up Notifications - I like many people use my iPhone as an alarm on my night stand. When the alarm goes off I grab the phone stop it and check the weather, etc. It would be superb if when the alarm goes off It could recognize the alarm sound in the noise canceling mic and turn on the other mic to listen for a response such as, "I'm up". Then immediately the alarm would stop and Siri could say, "Good Morning (insert name). The weather outside is a chilly 25 degrees. Don't forget that you have a reminder to stop by the dry cleaners on the way to work. You received 2 text messages while you were sleeping. Would you like me to read them?
- iCloud Data Retrieval - I like many on this forum use a Mac. I also like fewer of you use pages and store most of my docs in iCloud. The rumor has it that Siri could be coming to the Mac. That would mean that she would be on all of my devices. On my iPad and iPhone I have Pages and Numbers as well. It would be nice if while working I could simply ask Siri to open another document that I have on the cloud on any of my devices. It doesn't stop there though. There could be many prompts for Siri while living on your workstation. "Email this document to Steve Blahblah." or "Save this document to the folder April 2013". Siri needs to feel alive and a part of your daily tasks.
Continuous Conversation - One of the reasons that Siri feels detached is that you have to initialize prompts for her to listen. It would be great if when you first initialize a prompt a conversation would continue until it seems that you have found a complete solution. For example: Me- "Find the nearest coffee shop". Siri "I found 12 coffee shops fairly close to you" (a list is drawn up). That's it. If I prompt her again to say "Take me to the closest one" It has no clue what I'm referring to. It is convenient that I didn't have to type 'coffee shop' in maps but that is about all of the convenience Siri has brought my way. I still have to select the coffee shop shop and hit directions. It would be great if after I asked it to find the nearest coffee shop if it would ask if I needed directions or to call one. I know that if I tell it explicitly to take me to the nearest coffee shop then it will. With a personal assistant, however, sometimes you want it to convey a good amount of choices and then execute commands based on the choices given instead of just voice prompts.
These ideas could seem half baked and honestly, they kind of are. I don't work at Apple so i'm not sitting around all day thinking of how to improve Siri. I just feel that there is miles and miles to go with this program. With Google Glass riding into the scene with the idea that they are going to get technology out of the way I feel like this is Apple's chance to get the digital assistant ball truly rolling. The program needs to feel like it is there, ready to help and not just some voice command system that you must call. I'd be very interested to hear ideas from you guys about things that this program could do that would be very interesting.