“In February 2010, three weeks after Siri debuted as an independently developed iPhone app, Dag Kittlaus, Siri’s co-founder and chief executive, received a call from a mystery number,” Bianca Bosker reports for The Huffington Post. “It was Steve Jobs and he wanted to meet. The next day.”
“Siri’s co-founders spent three hours with Jobs at his Palo Alto home discussing the future of do engines and how people could converse with machines (Jobs loved Siri’s snark). Apple quickly followed up with an interest in acquiring the young company,” Bosker reports. “‘The way that Steve described it, speech recognition — and how to use it to create a speech interface for something like the iPhone — was an area of interest to him and Scott Forstall [then head of Apple’s mobile software] for some time,’ recalls Kittlaus. ‘The story that I’m told is that he thought we’d cracked that paradigm with our simple, conversational interface.'”
“Verizon thought so, too. In the fall of 2009, several months before Apple approached Siri, Verizon had signed a deal with the startup to make Siri a default app on all Android phones set to launch in the new year,” Bosker reports. “When Apple swooped in to buy Siri, it insisted on making the assistant exclusive to Apple devices, and nixed the Verizon deal. In the process, it narrowly avoided seeing Siri become a selling point for smartphones powered by its biggest rival, Google. (Somewhere in the vaults of the wireless giant, there are unreleased commercials touting Siri as an Android add-on.)”
Bosker reports, “Its first and only app had barely been available for two full months. And now Siri — and its future — belonged to Apple. ‘It was a storybook ending — or beginning, you can call it,’ Kittlaus says.”
Tons more, including how Siri the app (before Apple bought it) shows what Apple’s Siri can become in the future, in the full article – highly recommended – here.
MacDailyNews Take: We used Siri as an app. She was like a bright, funny graduate student. The Siri we have today is like her nine-year-old cousin.
As Bosker writes: Apple is under growing pressure to use the technology it already has and turn Siri into the multitasking, proactive helper it once was. Siri’s history suggests a fantastical future of virtual assistants is coming; where we now see Siri as a footnote to the iPhone’s legacy, some day soon the iPhone may be remembered as a footnote to Siri.
Hopefully, the reason why Apple has been taking this so slowly is a technical matter – the need for huge, multiple data centers (still coming online) to properly support hundreds of millions of users – and not a symptom of internal malaise. If the latter, Forstall’s little fiefdom has since been obliterated, so we look forward to much more rapid progress not only with Siri, but with Apple apps and iOS itself.
[Attribution: AppleInsider. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]