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Google’s Andy Rubin doesn’t think Siri makes a good friend

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 (s goog) 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(s aapl) has a good head start, with 4 million iPhones sold during the 4S launch weekend, and AT&T (s 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.

22 Responses to “Google’s Andy Rubin doesn’t think Siri makes a good friend”

  1. That is just dumb. Android had Siri in it’s app store for 2 years already and they could do more than any iPhone could even dream of. Sad it died of and now Apple is walking away with Google’s leftovers…

  2. Now that is the kind of shortsightedness that can stop you from being creative. I don’t have Siri but it’s a technology that I would love to have. Typing on my phone is not the best experience, specially as I grow older. If the phone can understand voice then I don’t have to worry about straining my eyes. I think the technology still need for improvement, but I totally diagree with Rubin.

  3. 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.

  4. “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.

  5. someperson

    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…

  6. Cold Water

    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?

  7. 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?

  8. 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!!