Apple makes great demos. The online videos of Siri, Apple’s new-fangled intelligent assistant, make for inspiring demonstrations. We can talk to our iPhones and they’ll talk back, and if it all works, we’ll understand each other. Is that insanely great? Or, is it merely what we’ve been expecting to come along for years?
Both: Insanely Great, Totally Expected
Steve Jobs death could not have come at a worse time for the Apple co-founder. At a relatively young age, he finally had the resources to bring the future, kicking and screaming, to tens of millions of people.
Think about it. Back in the late 1990s, Apple was struggling to make a profit after Jobs returned. Even 10 years ago, the company strained to move quickly on the iPod, iTunes, iTunes Store, and get the device into the hands of millions of Windows users.
10 years later, Apple sits on a pile of cash nearing 80-billion dollars, has hundreds of millions of customers, and vast development and manufacturing resources that are the envy of technology companies all over the planet.
As Jobs life ended, Apple is poised to birth a new form of technology to the masses. Artificial intelligence. We talk. The iPhone understands. The iPhone talks, and we understand. This is not simple voice commands such as Google’s anemic attempts to bring voice to Android devices. Apple’s Siri understands context. And Siri is being embedded into the operating system and apps. Allow me to predict that Siri may be the killer app for the iPhone. Add the inevitable customizable voices to Siri, and we end up with a truly personal device.
It’s What We Expected
Looking back to science fiction for inspiration, isn’t Siri what we expected all along? Wasn’t it really just a matter of the technology catching up with what we want it to do?
After all, Steve Jobs said that Apple worked on the iPad before the iPhone. How long did the company have to wait for touch screen technology to reach parity with Jobs’ vision? How long did Jobs have to wait for battery technology to reach parity with his minimum standard for acceptability?
And, now he’s gone. Just as the era of true artificial intelligence becomes the bedrock of iOS devices. Handheld devices with sufficient computing power to listen to us and understand our requests, both commands and context, are what we’ve seen in science fiction demonstrations for decades. Now we can stand in line and see the first ones hit a truly mass market.
Steve Jobs knew what we wanted even before we realized that we’ve really wanted it this way all along.