It’s been quite a while since Siri was officially introduced along with the iPhone 4S. Since then, the system has advanced quite a bit, but still has a long way to go. A very long way to become something much more useful than it is today.
A perfect Siri, a properly functioning Siri , could do the same damage to the GUI as it did to the command line. Thanks to Siri the way we control our devices could change and using a mouse, our fingers or a keyboard could start to change in favor of our voice, although the road will be very long.
Since her birth, Siri has “learned” many things. Now she is able to give us results from sports events, look for restaurants and even book a table (in the USA) and in the future we know that she will be able to buy movie tickets (again in the USA). Of course, Apple’s digital assistant has come up against competition and Google already has Google Now, a similar service, but this time from the giant of Mountain View and if there is one thing that Google knows how to do is services and take advantage of the information they already have for their services. Apple plays at a disadvantage in this field, so in order to really compete Siri would have to work tremendously well.
After the reorganization of Apple’s management, Eddy Cue is the new head of Siri and it will be him and his team who will have to make Siri tremendously interesting for users. Something we all want to use. How will he achieve this?
Speed and reliability
One of the main problems that Siri has faced since the day of its launch and that continues today, is that sometimes the assistant does not work and other times it is tremendously slow. This is partly due to its mode of operation. Everything we say to Siri has to be sent to Apple’s servers and that’s where it is processed and the response is generated that we then receive on our iOS device. This is understandable when Siri needs to consult some data on the Internet, but does not make sense for local tasks like setting an alarm or a calendar appointment. This only slows down the operation.
Google Now from Android 4.1 does voice analysis on the device itself and this should be something Apple has on the list of things to improve for iOS 7. A change that will take quite a bit of effort from Apple, but it will certainly be a benefit, a major improvement in the Digital Voice Assistant that all its iOS devices will include from now on and that may also come to OS X at some point.
This change would make certain tasks such as setting an alarm, setting an appointment on the calendar or writing a message to be performed locally and the task would be completely instantaneous.
Of course there would be data that would have to be consulted on the Internet such as competition results, weather and so on. This kind of results should be much faster than it is today, should fail less and for that Apple should try to depend as little as possible on its servers moving as much as possible to the user’s device, but also improving as much as possible its infrastructure.
It’s certainly a point where Apple has to get better, yes or no. Its infrastructure is large, but it’s not as reliable as you’d expect. It’s not the first time we see that the AppStore is down, that Siri doesn’t work, that Game Center fails or that iMessage doesn’t work at all well. At the moment, the only service that is saved is the iOS 6 Maps, so far it seems that they have not failed and let’s hope that things continue like that.
It’s clear that Apple has a long way to go to have cloud services as reliable as those of Google, Amazon or FaceBook. These companies base their business focus on the Internet, and Apple is not yet doing so, although it is increasingly having a direct relationship with “the cloud”.
Apple must update its data centers. Create a modern infrastructure, an infrastructure that allows them to perform maintenance without affecting users (the Apple Store Online closures when they want to upgrade products cry out to the heavens) and an infrastructure that allows them to scale smoothly.
Of course, Apple must step up and improve its server infrastructure to keep its cloud services up and running at 100%. Maybe it’s time for Apple to hire some good engineers from Google or FaceBook to help them with this task so they can bring their servers and services “in the cloud” up to date.
While engineers and developers are vitally important to Apple, the APIs are what developers care about . Developers have been asking for the Siri API and so far Apple has not made a move, although at the assistant’s presentation the company promised that it would eventually exist, although it doesn’t seem likely that it will come in the near future.
It seems pretty clear that creating an API for Siri is not something too easy, at least if we want to make using the wizard as simple as it is now. How do we tell Siri to use one or another application when we ask it for certain tasks? How do we tell Siri to save a note if we have the iOS Notes application installed and other applications with the same function? Which one should Siri choose? Of course we can tell you the name of the application, but this would make its use more complex and less natural.
No doubt Apple has things complicated in this regard. Opening Siri to any developer, could mean problems with the companies they have partnered with (Yelp, Fandango or OpenTablet to give some examples), since right now the information provided by these applications could be available in other alternatives as well and what would be the value of the agreements they have established?
There is no denying it, Apple is going to have a hard time and we will have to wait a while to see how they solve this little mishap.
Leaving aside speed, reliability, architecture or API, we end users still face some important limitations. For example, Siri is able to write an email or an SMS and is able to read an SMS, but is not able to read an email. One year after its release there are still certain basic sections that Siri is not able to perform and it seems that these do not come from technical limitations or similar, but simply that the functionalities have not been applied by Apple for some reason that we do not know.
Siri could become something much more useful . For example, you might be able to tell us about certain topics based on our location and our appointments. For example, if we have a meeting in the city center and at the time it is starting to rain there, you might be able to tell us about the rain. If the traffic is bad and we are going to be late for an appointment, you could send messages to the people we have to meet saying that we will be late. Siri knows where we are at all times and could take advantage of that. For example, she might be able to activate the device’s WiFi when we simply arrive at home or at the office, or activate the Do Not Disturb mode when we enter a meeting that we have scheduled because we will be “unavailable”.
The possibilities are many and Apple should take note and start improving Siri if they want to have some success. The competition is strong and Apple cannot afford to have its main competitors continue to lose customers and devices such as the iPhone or iPad continue to lose interest from users.
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