TECH TALK

SIRI, are you the answer to Apple's troubles?


Published: Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 1, 2013 at 5:04 p.m.

The past few weeks have been no pie with a la mode for Apple.

The most successful company of this generation has been publicly ripped for not being innovative enough. Ironic, considering that just a few months back they were slugging on Wall Street like Babe Ruth did at Yankee Stadium.

Rest assured, "What have you done for me lately" is alive and well.

So is it true? Did Steve Jobs leave the cupboard bare before his untimely death on Oct. 5, 2011? The answer might've been revealed on Oct. 4, 2011, when the iPhone 4S was announced.

While the phone itself was merely an incremental step-up from iPhone 4, it was the delivery vehicle for SIRI, Apple's intelligent personal assistant.

I would suggest the timing of the announcement was intentional. Not for the device, but for the sake of announcing the birth of SIRI before the death of Jobs. This virtual secretary could very well be the foundation of Apple's future.

Take a look at the cornucopia of rumors involving new Apple devices and you will see why.

Apple Television — What else can Apple provide to the boob tube besides making a beautiful set? Perhaps eliminating the pile of remote controls. Can you imagine just telling your television to tune into the game instead of searching for it? Ever try to record a show with a remote?

While content has risen exponentially, the way we interact with our televisions has not changed in decades. A voice-controlled smart television would fit nicely with Apple's core goal of not competing with existing devices but recreating new ones. Perhaps this is why Jobs cryptically said in his deathbed biography, "I finally cracked it," referring to televisions.

iWatch — This is the natural device for a SIRI-like operating system. How often would you need to dig for your phone if you could text, call, lookup or ask virtually any question by simply interacting with a smart watch. Obviously you could not type on something the size of a postage stamp so voice activation is clearly the direction. The smart watch would probably not replace the smartphone but the evolution from one to another makes a great deal of sense.

Smart Cars — Virtually every automobile manufacturer is working on ways to pair smart devices to the environment of their vehicles. Models will be released as early as this year. Such technology only works when busy drivers have an attention-free method for changing songs, asking directions, making reservations, checking the score of the game or even texting/calling the spouse. You guessed it, something just like SIRI. Your car is one of the last places to be pimped with iTechnology. Considering we spend so much time in our cars, it's a matter of when not if.

When Apple released the Mac back in 1984, it brought the combined innovation of keyboard and mouse to the forefront. With touchscreen devices like iPhone and iPad, Apple is taking us away from the mouse entirely, and the next logical step is that voice input will replace the keyboard in the near future.

If you have ever used SIRI, you certainly know that this technology has a long way to go. Currently, it's much more fun to simply ask stupid questions and get sassy canned answers back than to attempt real computing. Still, it does have useful intentions. With IOS 6 came real upgrades over its predecessor, and you can see why Apple has every reason to focus as many resources to get SIRI to be the innovational foundation that it needs to be.

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