Siri has a special place in everyone’s heart – remembered as their first virtual assistant and for some of her fun easter eggs (ever Siri’d “why’s a fire truck red?” – if you haven’t you should!). Unfortunately with the progress that Google and Amazon have made since Siri’s launch she is less a source of wonder and become one of frustration by lagging behind her competitors. My personal favorite example of this is that she can’t open Apple owned apps across devices – like “Podcasts” on to your Apple TV from your iPhone:
Need to see it to believe? Quick example video below:
While this sounds like the epitome of First World Apple Problems, the truth is Apple needs to make these changes to stay relevant in the next 20 to 50 years. Because while Siri improvements would be felt today on the iPhone, focusing on her could leapfrog Apple back on top in the coming technologies like: connected home (via HomePod or Apple TV), vehicle (via Titan or CarPlay), and VR (Apple TV or TBD products). This is crucial because these new technologies will likely rely heavily on integrated AI assistants for user interaction and would enable her to become the new sticking point that keeps users in the Apple ecosystem long after iTunes or iMessage fade from relevance.
With these future technologies in mind, if I were to be put in charge of the Siri product today I would:
- Adopt a “Voice First Mentality”: Like the evolution to “Mobile First” or “Cloud First” – Apple needs to adopt a “Voice First” mentality. This would mean forcing the team to only use Siri for anything that doesn’t require a great amount of concentration (i.e. anything that isn’t coding, writing, or design work). If Siri can’t complete the tasks to something Jobs would approve then it should be noted and fixed, because if it’s happening in Apple’s controlled environment then you can bet it’s happening in the actual marketplace and will only get worse.
- Enable Deeper App Integrations: To further make Siri the focal point for interacting with your devices, then she needs to have deeper control over your apps (something Apple has been semi-loathe to do). While it might not make sense to literally create a “Siri Store” they should open up Siri to interact with more apps and more importantly be able to control them so the user never has to open them (i.e. sending a Slack message). This would create a deeper integration of Siri into user’s daily lives and enable her to translate across platform easier.
- Create trigger words for multi-actions: While Siri might not be self-aware enough to do everything a real assistant can, much of this could be mimicked with trigger words that indicate additional actions like “meeting”, “schedule”, “remember”, “create” and haver her to suggest useful actions like “You mentioned to email Bob about rescheduling our meeting to noon – do you want me to make this change on your calendar?” or ask additional questions like “You asked to create new note, should I put that into a certain folder for you?”. By using these key words she can prioritize these actions to make her feel more intelligent and intuitive then she is while reducing the individual computing required to complete each individual task.
- Better Search Results: Finally – Siri needs to improve her search results and come back with more relevant suggestions. By integrating the apps she should return more relevant actions and suggestions, but this could be as simple as asking Siri to search apps broadly or a particular app for things vs the web. Additionally, while this might not be possible because of competitive instincts, Siri should have a deeper integration with Google Search to provide more relevant websites then she does today.
By adopting some of those tweaks Apple would be situated to improve Siri today (bringing her back to the stage she had before) while also setting themselves up better for the future when AI driven technologies will replace the smartphones and other display focused hardware we have today.