On Wednesday, I wrote about how Siri had finally convinced me to use voice commands with a phone, despite an inherent reluctance to do so. According to Google’s SVP of Mobile, Andy Rubin, however, I’m hanging out with the wrong crowd. Here’s why he’s wrong.

Android Fireside Chat

On Wednesday, I wrote about how Siri had finally convinced me to use voice commands with a phone, despite an inherent reluctance to do so. According to Google’s SVP of Mobile, Andy Rubin, however, I’m hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Rubin, speaking at the AllThingsD AsiaD conference on Wednesday, said he had reservations about the nature of Siri. Here’s how Rubin worded his fears in discussion with Walt Mossberg:

I don’t believe your phone should be an assistant. Your phone is a tool for communicating. You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone; you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone.

He also doesn’t think the act will catch on, despite conceding that “to some degree it is natural for you to talk to your phone.” Apple has a good head start, with 4 million iPhones sold during the 4S launch weekend, and AT&T announced 1 million new iPhone 4S activations on Thursday morning. But admittedly, just because people are buying the devices doesn’t mean they will use the service.

Rubin seems to be arguing that the job of a phone is to be transparently helpful to the process of interpersonal communication; it’s meant to facilitate talking, not become the target of that act. From the perspective of a Skynet-controlled dystopian future in which our primary relationships are with things, not people, I might agree.

But obviously, that bleak sci-fi premise hasn’t yet come to pass. And Siri is still all about communication; I’ve sent more text messages and emails to family and friends in the past few days than I have in the past month, I’d guess. Siri isn’t about creating a closed loop between you and your phone; it’s about making your phone more useful, something I’d imagine Android owners are interested in, too.

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  1. Wow, SIRI must be more threatening, to Google’s mission of being your sole provider of information, than we originally thought.

  2. This guys an idiot! Smart phones are already assistants by their very nature. Not only does a voice command enhance your phone’s a ability to assist but it has obvious safety implications and lets face it, it’s the future! We will soon be telling our tv’s to switch channel, our hifi’s to change track and our dearly beloved lights to dim. Why wouldn’t we tell our phones to do stuff. As a competitor I understand his negativity but please don’t tell me this is the best he can come up with? He’s going to look even more pathetic when Android upgrades their own voice software because Siri proves such a hit!!

    1. He’s not an idiot, he’s just a competitor making a poor case against his primary competition.

  3. Funny, He sounds like all of the phone manufactures right after the first iPhone was announced… they are where saying, touchscreen it will never work, people want keys that they can press… Furthermore, isn’t me saying to my iPhone “Send Jim a message…” actually communicating with the people?

  4. It will be months before anyone knows if the Siri feature’s a stud or a dud. So far, anyway, more of the talk seems to be about the funny things Siri says than the cool things Siri does.

    I know that iBooks didn’t start a revolution in reading, and video calling hasn’t taken off thanks to FaceTime (though the front/rear cameras are handy). We’ve all written off Cards, right?

  5. Isn’t my smartphone also a computer. I use my regular computer to find directions, restaurants and what not. So if SIRI replaces the keyboard and screen with voice. More power to it.

  6. Phones don’t really make good friends… he does have a point that the phone shouldn’t be the target of a relationship, only to facilitate it – however, seeing as Siri does help facilitate communications…

  7. Hey! I like Siri. Still, you may have a point. I am a Google fan but Apple shaped my adult life.

  8. “Google’s Andy Rubin doesn’t think Siri makes a good friend”

    Well I guess Google would know best, when they pretend to be friends with Apple and steals their work.

    1. what???? android apples work have you seen the new ios 5? Drop down notifacation bar, opening up messages and camera from lockscreen, whether widget!!!!???? What did android steal i mean really!!!!

      1. (Android stole the multitouch thingy.)

      2. See multiple lawsuits, and oh wait, Oracle is burying Google as they even admitted in emails that they hacked Java to make Android. By the time Apple and Oracle get done in the courts, Google is going to be weeping.

  9. Steve Balmer and he should go on the road together. Singing some blues songs.
    I love my personal assistant. Way to go Steve.

    1. That Siri Says Jon Monday, October 24, 2011

      Awesome comment :)

  10. Uh, yeah, no. Siri is great! I tell her to remind me about things when I get to places or to take care of stuff later on or where my girlfriend is while we’re at the mall and Siri lets me know.
    I especially like being able to set a dozen reminders for tomorrow on my way home from work without taking my eyes off the road.
    Of course, Siri says some pretty funny stuff and sometimes misinterprets things or has pre-programmed clever responses, but there’s good in that, too, as it gave birth to my girlfriend’s blog stuffsirisays.wordpress.com

    So, even when Siri’s not acting right, her absurdity can still be turned into something good. Siri is win-win.

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