It now appears that Apple is waiting for iOS 5 to be ready to release the iPhone 5, which shows how big a deal the latest version of its mobile operating system is. However, there was a huge thing missing from that unveiling.
Siri is the mobile assistant app Apple acquired almost a year ago.
Siri is really a mobile search engine. Or really, it’s what a mobile search engine would be like if we’d had the Internet on phones before computers.
You speak into it, you say something like, “Siri, I want a romantic Italian restaurant nearby”, and it will do that. It will take your location and scour Yelp and the like for Italian restaurants with the attribute “romantic” near you. You can ask it to make a reservation, and it will go through OpenTable and do it.
It’s like it’s magical. It uses artificial intelligence developed by the Pentagon and was funded by the CIA.
It also ought to scare the bejeezus out of Google, because search is its core business and mobile search is the big reason why Google got into the mobile phone business in the first place. If Apple can do it better than Google, they’re in big trouble.
So, what’s the hold up?
The last time he was asked about Siri, Steve Jobs punted on the question, and said that Siri wasn’t a search startup, but an artificial intelligence startup. This suggested that Siri was really an “acq-hire” for Apple to get great engineers.
But it’s hard to buy. Siri built right into iOS would be such an amazing feature, plus such a great sop at Google, that it’s hard to imagine Apple isn’t working on it.
We only see one explanation: Apple is working on a new, even better and more powerful version of Siri, which can take voice commands and do all sorts of stuff, including search.
We can’t wait.
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