Voice recognition technology – been around for ages, clunky, needs headphones and a radio studio environment and you still need to talkveryslowly to get it to understand you?
Well, not anymore, because there is a new kid in town and she will have quite a few people worried especially the nice folks at Google and Facebook.
No way you say, 'Google will be around forever'. Well no actually. Nothing lasts forever not even search engines like Google. The reason is simple. Siri is more than just voice recognition software, Siri understands, and considering this is still in beta v1.0 it is very impressive.
Siri gives seamless access to information. In fact far more effectively and quickly than Google. With Siri you just say what you want, almost like thinking out loud and the answer is brought to you with a little bit of personality to boot. Siri has certain characteristics which make her seem more, dare I say 'human'. This interaction is the major difference between previous attempts at voice controlled systems. That and the very sophisticated voice recognition software which Apple has bought / developed. Couple this with what Apple does better than anyone – making things work and work in style, and you have something which is fun and very practical and a potential giant killer.
Siri removes the need for Google or Bing or any search engine. After all search engines are basically just big databases, Just like banks did not invent money, Google did not invent the internet. It just catalogs it and makes it easier to find what we are looking for. But who decides what is best for us? Google will not say why it thinks one website is better for our needs than another. Their ranking algorithms are their best kept secret. So the only surest and quickest way to get ranked is to pay using the Google money making machine called AdWords. Is that fair? Should perfectly viable businesses be unable to trade with a domain name that is perfect for them because of speculative purchasing of tens of thousands of domain names, the majority of which will never be used. Is it fair that an older business with defect pockets can command the high ground and deny new energy to compete on a level playing field? Google would say yes. Siri will say no.
For the time being, Siri uses Google to search on your behalf. But Siri also consults other directories like Yelp.com, looking at customer reviews to decide which site or business is likely to give better service based on the opinions of people who have actually used the service. OK, Google does the same with local search, but Google just can not help itself, it has to charge for listings and sure enough even the local listings are now for sale.
So imagine a system which sidesteps search engines and finds what you need based on what other people thought was good. A system which in theory can make more money in one day than Google can make in a year. Just by charging a fixed fee to be included. The algorithm is simple. Location and reviews and a willingness to pay a membership fee.
Imagine a system which listens passively to your conversations, picks up hints from your conversation and offers helpful ideas. You mention a physical ailment like a sports injury you sustained last night. Siri will kindly suggest sports masseurs and chiropractors nearby. She will even book you an appointment. '2pm is open in your calendar' shall I confirm that for you ?. How can you say no? Did not have a break in a while? She knows where you like to go, she knows what you like to do, how? well you told her. Over weeks and months, she will get to know you as well as anyone and she will be there to suggest answers or remind you of tasks or help you with Christmas shopping or upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions. The list goes on. So where does that leave Google? A generation from now you may just have to explain to your kids what Google was – or you could just get Siri to do it for you.