Before Apple, Verizon planned to launch Siri as Droid line’s killer feature

In some alternate universe, Verizon’s hallmark Droid line launched in 2009 with its own voice-activated personal assistant, courtesy of then little-known startup Siri. Droids began listening to their owners, then talking back, eventually developing sentience and leading to a war between humans and machines. OK, so none of that actually happened, but it could have. At least the part about Siri on the Droid.

You see, the story goes that Verizon signed a deal with Siri to include their voice assistant software on their flagship line of Android devices. It was going to be marketed as a killer feature, and commercials were even produced to showcase the app’s capabilities. Then Apple entered the picture, bought Siri, and the rest is history.

But perhaps it’s better that way. Had Siri been available for Android devices, Google may have never been pushed to develop a similar service of their own to bake into Android. What we today know as Google Now might not even exist. The entire smartphone landscape would look utterly different. That’s just the sort of cultural power Siri, or more so Apple, holds.

Siri itself would also likely be drastically different. Most would be surprised to find out that older standalone versions of Siri were actually more capable than the iteration that first launched on the iPhone 4S. If you thought the ability to book a table through Siri was new, just look back to the original iOS app, which had the functionality included.

The ability to speak naturally and intuitively to our devices is a trend that will only continue to develop. In fact, if CES was any indication that sort of fluid interaction will extend beyond smartphones to the living room and beyond. Voice-activated TVs and other appliances are already here. Maybe that machine war isn’t so far off, after all.

[via The Verge]

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  • MK2

    Maybe it’s my noisy car, or maybe it’s that I don’t want everyone in the room to know what I’m doing on my phone, but I have very little desire to interact with my phone through voice commands. I did it for a while on my GNex and it worked well, but it just got old.

    • TheScientists

      I spend a lot of time on the road, and I find that most voice based apps fail pretty spectacularly while in the car (I leave my phone mounted to an AC vent). The only time I get a decent experience is with an app that can be set to specifically listen via BT mic; and as long as I have the mic right next to my face. It seems that Google Voice Search fails at listening via BT (at least using my particular mic).

    • NexusMan

      It’s definitely a case by case scenario. Its not for everyone and every situation, but there are definite times when it does come in handy for me. A recent example was I was running late for work and STARVING. The train was 10 minutes away from where I was and there was a restaurant that I liked right by the train station. While getting dressed at home, rather than wasting time, searching through the internet to find the restaurant’s number, and then holding it, and calling them and ordering, I just said “Google. Call [restaurant name]” And it knew exactly what I was talking about, found the number (which is not in my contacts) and called them and I placed my order via speakerphone, never having to pick up the phone, and keeping my hands free to continue getting dressed. I then grabbed my phone (now dressed) and left, and picked up my order before hopping on the train.

      • bluevoodo

        I’ve done that it can be a hit or miss, I used to be more fond of Google voice actions, because the interface was rather instant, on Google voice I have to wait a second or three for google to get with the program on galaxy nexus.

  • King_James_The_Wicked

    Thank God this did not go out on Android. Siri Sucks!!! Google Now is such a better service in what I have observed and tested.

  • TheScientists

    @ Kevin,

    Google Now is not Google Voice Search. Two different services. I see you and Chavez making this mistake, ad nauseum.

    • camelsnot

      ad nauseum makes me nauseous. You aren’t as elitist as you think.

  • NexusMan

    Google Now has zero to do with the supposed “sort of cultural power Siri, or more so Apple, holds.” Suggesting Verizon having Siri built into their Droid line, would have perhaps not inspired Google to create Google Now, is just silly. Following that logic, Verizon’s VZ Navigator should have prevented Google from developing Google Maps, V Cast Music should have prevented Google Music, and ISIS Mobile Wallet should have prevented the development of Google Wallet. What Verizon is doing on android phones on their network has ZERO to do with Google’s vision, innovation and creativity.

  • Jeffrey Evans

    Apple screwed up when they tried to give Siri a comical personality. That’s why I love Google Now so much, just tell me what I need to know, leave the kindergarten level jokes out.

  • FortTech101

    This just shows how much Apple INNOVATIVES. Oh wait a second. I just looked in the iDictionary and didn’t find the word innovate. Well Apple = Failure

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/107214144202094295079/posts James

      Wow, that joke was hilarious on a fourth grade level.

      • FortTech101

        Thanks for appreciating my joke.

  • maximillion82

    Glad that didn’t happen otherwise Google would have had no reason to make Google now (which IMO is much better, might not have the attitude of Siri, but its much more daily usable)