It's now been nearly three years since
introduced Siri in the iPhone 4s. While the virtual assistant
feature hasn't exactly proven as
as I may have thought initially, such systems have become an
important aspect of the competitive landscape.
responded promptly to Apple's move with Google Now, which is
considered superior in some ways to Siri.
recently released Cortana (better late than never). The software
giant is even running an ad comparing Cortana to Siri. Guess
which system wins.
These virtual assistants have mostly been confined to the
world of mobile devices. Apple added voice dictation to OS X in
2012, but that's merely a transcription service.When will the
virtual assistants from the tech heavyweights make it to the
To the Mac
Google was the first mover on installing virtual assistants on
the desktop. Google Now in March of this year was made available
on the desktop through Google's popular Chrome browser. Google
Now cards show up in the Chrome notification center on Macs and
Apple has filed for a patent application that details how Siri
could finally come to the Mac, as discovered by
Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The desktop version could use contextual clues to figure out
what the user is asking for. Users can bring up Siri with a
specific keyboard or mouse gesture, as well as possibly a voice
command. "Hey, Siri" was shown as a new feature at Apple's
Worldwide Developers Conference in June, and would resemble
Google's own "OK, Google."
What's taking so long?
Why has Apple not yet brought Siri to the Mac? It's worth noting
that Siri didn't immediately
make its way to the iPad
, either. It's possible that Apple waited to build out its North
Carolina data center to handle the back-end infrastructure. Siri
was added to the iPad with iOS 6.
The patent application also details many new possible features
that would be unique to the desktop, such as the ability to drag
folders and files onto Siri in order to have the assistant
perform certain tasks. Siri could also help with multitasking in
what Apple refers to as using it as a "third hand." All of these
features aren't applicable to mobile settings and would require
extra development effort on Apple's part.
The developer previews of OS X Yosemite, which is due out
later this year, don't have any type of Siri functionality built
in. That means Apple likely isn't planning on bringing Siri to
the Mac this year, if at all. But at least we know it's on the
Why would it matter?
While voice-powered assistants haven't taken off yet, that
doesn't mean they lack revolutionary potential in the long run.
Apple's greatest achievements have always focused on interface
paradigm shifts. The original Mac's GUI. The iPod click wheel.
The iPhone touchscreen.
" concept video that Apple created in 1987 (under John Sculley,
not Steve Jobs) has yet to come to fruition. As Apple
continues to teach Siri new tricks and likely expand its platform
support to the desktop, maybe that idea from nearly three decades
ago will become a reality in the foreseeable future, leapfrogging
Apple ahead of the competition yet again.
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Apple, Inc. Could Finally Bring Siri to the
originally appeared on Fool.com.
Evan Niu, CFA
owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A
shares), and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of
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