Jan 23rd, 2013

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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