It appears — originally based off a tweet from Robert Scoble, and then confirmed by Business Insider — that Apple has made yet another acquisition: the company who makes the Siri application for iPhone. If you’re not familiar with Siri, it functions as a personal assistant on your mobile device. While we’ve all heard this claim before from other offerings, Siri sure looks to come close.
So while Siri makes claims that sound familiar to other apps available for iPhone, its execution sure seems to raise it above the rest of the field. With an interface to type your input, as well as speak it, the user has flexibility to interact easily with Siri while on the go. (Sounds kind of like Google’s mobile app, doesn’t it?) The special sauce that Siri has in its corner is being context aware (location, time, dates, etc) as well as hooking into many web APIs to gather and present information for easy consumption. Truth be told, this mashup of information and resources reminds me of Yahoo Pipes, only with the geeky parts hidden and Voice interaction added. What’s not to like? There are great demos to be found on siri.com, but as a quick example, I could tell Siri, “I want to find a movie to watch this Thursday at midnight” and it returns a list of showtimes near my location, with links to buy tickets. Pretty neat, and super easy to use.
What could this mean for Apple? My immediate assumption is that the Voice Over capability of future iPhone operating systems will implement Siri features — at least that’s my hope. Launching an app to do the work isn’t a big deal, but how great would it be to be driving, hold down my iPhone’s home button for a few seconds, and speak my request to Siri without having to look away from the road? It also seems obvious that with this purchase Apple has decided to roll its own rather than letting market competitors such as Google provide competitive options on their device. Is Apple getting into search, as some believe? I don’t think this is search, so much as service, but who’s to say?
It’s always interesting to see what Apple is doing when it goes on a buying spree. Lately it’s been oriented toward making processors, but snatching up some effective software obviously isn’t out of the question either. Though the trend seems to be strongly along the lines of its mobile product line, which really isn’t all that surprising now, is it? Siri is free in the App Store, but only available within the U.S. currently.
See some other interesting integrations for Siri in Apple’s ecosystem? Share your ideas in the comments!