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.