Today Apple announced the iPhone 4S which disappointed many who were expecting to see the iPhone 5. However, Apple was still able to excite the fanbase with the public demo a Siri, a virtual personal assistant coming to iOS5 on October 12th. Apple acquired the company Siri for $200 million in April of last year and Steve Jobs described it as “artificial intelligence”, not search or speech recognition.
Apple sums up the new service on their site. “Siri on iPhone 4S lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk. Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back. Siri is so easy to use and does so much, you’ll keep finding more and more ways to use it.”
Android already has similar virtual assistant apps like Vlingo, but they are not as deeply integrated into the operating system as closely as Siri. Check out the demo video below for an idea of what to expect.
If you were hoping that Google would launch their own virtual assistant into the next version Android, then you might get your wish as soon as next week. I recently received a random tip that Google has been working on taking their Voice Search app to the next level with similar virtual assistant features. Unfortunately I don’t have any specific details, but we know that Google has been a leader in voice technology and facial recognition is coming to Ice Cream Sandwich.
What I think Google might have in store is some kind of animated character or pet that is tied to your Google account and appears on your Android unlock screen. This might sound kind of crazy, but picture something like Talking Tom Cat 2 (or Seaman for the Sega Dreamcast!), but with real intelligence behind it that learns and remembers everything you do.
Whatever happens, I’m quite excited with the progression of voice technology and the advancements in artificial intelligence that can make our lives easier. It’s good to see Apple raise the bar with Siri and I’m excited to see what ideas the Google engineers came up with.
What type of tasks would you like your virtual personal assistant to do?