Apple is supposedly going to make voice commands a big part of its new iPhone and iPad software.
When we wrote about this yesterday, the first response from many readers was along the lines of, “Gee, great, I’ve been doing this on my Android phone forever!”
No one’s suggesting that Apple will be the first company to make voice commands a big part of their gadgets.
Just like Apple wasn’t the first company to make a phone with a touchscreen, or the first company to make an MP3 player.
But when it comes to revolutionizing user interfaces, no one has the history of success that Apple has. And that’s why there is a good chance that Apple’s voice controls could actually be something that most people want to use, all the time, for all kinds of things.
That is, just like the Mac mouse, iPod scroll wheel, and iPhone touchscreen before it, Apple could leapfrog what’s currently out there in voice recognition with something magical.
And that could potentially give the iPhone a new, badly needed leg up over Android.
Apple’s sense of the human touch is historically much stronger than Google’s, and that could help it create a much better voice interface than Google’s. This is a concept that is as much art as science, and Apple’s unparalleled sense of what really works for human beings is important here.
And Apple’s tight integration of its software and hardware design arguably gives it another leg up over Google, which has a very fragmented hardware ecosystem and more distant relationships with its vendors.
That’s the theory, at least.
Of course, there’s also the chance that Apple will blow it, or just introduce something mediocre. Voice controls are hard, and Google has built up impressive talent here.
While Apple is the company that taught you how to touch your music and your phone, Google is arguably stronger than Apple in sifting through information, and that could be equally or more important here. Maybe Apple won’t win in voice controls, and Android will keep rolling.
But given Apple’s history in user interfaces, we are expecting some very cool things this summer, supposedly set for unveiling at Apple’s WWDC conference next month.