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Siri Gives Apple Two Year Advantage Over Android 800

Posted by samzenpus
from the head-of-the-class dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Gary Morgenthaler, a recognized expert in artificial intelligence and a Siri board member, says that Apple now has at least a two-year advantage over Google in the war for best smartphone platform. 'What Siri has done is changed people's expectations about what's possible,' says Morgenthaler. 'Apple has crossed a threshold; people now expect that you should be able to expect to speak ordinary English — and be understood. Siri has cracked the code.' The threshold, from mere speech recognition to natural language input and understanding, is one that Google cannot cross by replicating the technology or making an acquisition adds Morgenthaler. 'There's no company out there they can go buy.' Morgenthaler's comments echo the recent article in Forbes Magazine, 'Why Siri Is a Google Killer' that says that Apple's biggest advantage over any other voice application out there today is the massive data Siri will collect in the next 2 years — all being stored in Apple's massive North Carolina data center — that will allow Siri to get better and better. 'Siri is a new interface for customers wanting to get information,' writes Eric Jackson. 'At the moment, most of us still rely on Google for getting at the info we want. But Siri has a foot in the door and it's trusting that it will win your confidence over time to do basic info gathering.'"
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Siri Gives Apple Two Year Advantage Over Android

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  • So true (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Yes, because only Siri can do this. No-one else can. Arsehole.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by papasui (567265)
      The only true finite resource in the world is time. Just because you can afford to pay 2 million programmers doesn't mean that a project that would normally take 5 years can be done in like a week. While voice narration/navigation has been available for years I'd describe the results as lukewarm. SIRI appears to be a leap forward in terms of both recognition and the tasks it can actually perform. It is really pretty cool.
      • Re:So true (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dintech (998802) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:36AM (#37932722)

        I'm an iphone 4s owner and wish that instead of Siri, I had a phone that could actually just not drop calls every 5 minutes. Seriously, the 4s is way worse than my old iphone 3G in this respect.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300)

      Well the original iPhone was about 2 years ahead of the market. It doesn't mean they will start seeing copies after two years, but you will see cheap ripoff products for a few years then finally after 2 years you will get something that is truly competitive.

  • by psergiu (67614) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:12AM (#37932446)
  • Iris (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.xda-developers.com/android/enter-iris-so-long-siri-we-hardly-knew-ye/
    Just letting you know that android has a similar service and it was only made in 8 hours time.
    So I suppose this will get alot better

    • Re:Iris (Score:5, Insightful)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:41AM (#37932774) Journal

      It's mostly done for the few people that care. As much as apple would love for siri to sound like an amazing feature, it is far from groundbreaking and most people just don't care.

      Essentially what it gets used for is a decent voice command here or there. I forgot what site it was that was analyzing siri's data usage and categorized people by number of uses per day. I think the average was 3. People use their phones more than that in a day, let alone what that shows of siri.

      • by tixxit (1107127)
        I recently upgraded to Android 2.3 and actually use the (Google) voice recognition feature quite a bit (send text, write emails, etc). Of course, my touch screen is broken, so that may explain my usage.
    • Re:Iris (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mr100percent (57156) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:51AM (#37932900) Homepage Journal

      Iris is a weak attempt.

      Siri's advantage isn't the speech recognition or ties to Wolfram Alpha, but that it handles natural language (as TFA is referring to). I can tell Siri "I locked myself out of my apartment" and it will show me a list of nearby locksmiths to choose from via Google Maps. Iris will soon be able to do google lookups of math equations or tell me the capital of a country, but Siri goes far more than that.
      It's not about knowledge or access to data, but about your device recognizing what you mean. This is unlike even established products like Dragon dictate; it stops becoming LCARS from Star Trek and turns into JARVIS from Iron Man. The various wisecracks that Siri can deliver back were also part of Apple's design to give it some attitude.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        Iris is a weak attempt.

        Siri's advantage isn't the speech recognition or ties to Wolfram Alpha, but that it handles natural language (as TFA is referring to). I can tell Siri "I locked myself out of my apartment" and it will show me a list of nearby locksmiths to choose from via Google Maps. Iris will soon be able to do google lookups of math equations or tell me the capital of a country, but Siri goes far more than that.
        It's not about knowledge or access to data, but about your device recognizing what you mean. This is unlike even established products like Dragon dictate; it stops becoming LCARS from Star Trek and turns into JARVIS from Iron Man. The various wisecracks that Siri can deliver back were also part of Apple's design to give it some attitude.

        This sort of feature is incredibly interesting, but how well does it really work for things that might not be already known by a normal person? I mean, it is pretty simple to know to say "find the nearest locksmith" if you are locked out; I highly doubt *anyone* responsible for locking themselves and their belongings up does not know that a locksmith is the go-to resource for such things. What if I said "i need to find a cheap glockenspiel" or "I just lost my wallet" or how about "i need to break up with

      • by Terrasque (796014)

        Well.. [tomshardware.com]

        From that article:

        "What is the weather like" -> Does not understand (but gives you weather forecast for "what is the weather" - which is arguably wrong ;) )

        Also:
        "Understand crazy monkey weather" and "what do you think about this political climate" both returned weather forecast..

        Not exactly what I would call "your device recognizing what you mean", to be honest. Still looks mostly like the good old "looking for keywords" approach.

  • by EponymousCustard (1442693) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:12AM (#37932458)
    Stopped reading after that
    • by Superken7 (893292) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:16AM (#37932498) Journal

      Not only that, he completely disregards for no apparent reason those existing services that are exactly like Siri was before Apple acquired it (read: same functionality, inferior interface/design). Speaktoit allows you to speak english to your phone and will do almost the same that Siri does. Google would need to buy them and integrate it in a nice way with Android. The current interface is a bit lacking but the technology is definitely there.
      This is obviously a VERY biased opinion from a Siri board member.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        there is an app in the android market called " Iris "
        it is in the Alpha stage and work great, it is after 8 HOURS developing. imagine after the Final release .

        another thing about siri, it is very hard to all software like that to deal with different accent of English, and its only work with English.

        you can check you tube, but android done the real-time translation and i think if that joined the Iris or something similar in Android we will get Android version of Siri which works with any language.

    • by jrumney (197329) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @10:30AM (#37934390) Homepage

      "Iris [android.com], does this article look like a steaming pile of turd to you too?"

      Yes Dave, it does look like a poorly researched paid product placement.

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:14AM (#37932472)

    People aren't going to use Siri very much, because talking to your phone makes you look stupid. It's been on Android for years anyway, and no-one used it there. That Apple claim it's more useful now means nothing. It's like forward facing cameras - outside of a tiny niche no-one cares.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by miffo.swe (547642)

      Exactly my take on this. Its fun for about ten minutes and then 99% of all people just shrugs and move on. I have played with voice control for a long time and i always thought the problem was the software. Later on i have come to accept that voice input is just a gimmick. No matter how good the software becomes it still sucks as an input method, unless you are speaking with another human.

      And if we take a look at the world and all the killing going on, does it look like we humans are good at interpreting la

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Relyx (52619) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:22AM (#37932558)

      People aren't going to use Siri very much, because talking to your phone makes you look stupid.

      How do you make phone calls then without looking stupid?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How do you make phone calls then without looking stupid?

        By using a bluetooth headset so nobody can see I'm talking to my phone, duh!

      • by mcmonkey (96054)

        People aren't going to use Siri very much, because talking to your phone makes you look stupid.

        How do you make phone calls then without looking stupid?

        Easy. I connect to another person and talk with my phone, not too my phone.

        But seriously, for the folks with Siri, is it that useful? Do you use that often?

        I've played around with the voice recognition features of droid, and they're more annoying than useful. Part of it is, the only time I'd really want any of those features is when driving. Otherwise, my fingers are much more accurate than my voice.

        I haven't played much with Siri on my wife's 4S, but if it's anything like the voice recognition on Apple

        • What I've found I use Siri for the most is things that would require typing more than two words, especially putting together to-do lists and reminders. It's much faster to say what I want than to type it out. I have never used android's voice features, but I get the feeling that I probably wouldn't want to have to memorize and remember the exact order of words to use for the commands I'd want to use.

          Having to memorize a set of actions required to interface with a computer is fine for most geeks, but a defi

    • Wait, what? Talking to your phone makes you look stupid? The whole point of a phone is to talk to it. I have used it quite often, actually. Aside from the fact that I can get things done (or control my phone) just by speaking if I'm in my car or someplace it's also nice to have the ability to use voice input in place of the keyboard in nearly any app I come across.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by samkass (174571) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:48AM (#37932866) Homepage Journal

      I don't have any hard data yet, but anecdotal evidence so far says you're incorrect. ArsTechnica's poll of their employees with a 4S indicate anywhere from 3-15 average Siri uses per day. My wife already prefers it to typing on the phone. I think it's especially interesting since it integrates fairly well with a car's bluetooth integration.

      I can imagine a future screen-less phone that's just a stick with a speaker, mic, and button, with everything being done via voice...

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      I love the desperate comments from the Android-faithful and general anti-smartphone or anti-Mac crowd.... "It'll make you look like an IDIOT if you talk to your phone!" "Nobody will want to use THAT!"

      Yep.... and it was crazy to think it was possible to build some kind of rocket ship that could go all the way to the moon. Nobody would want to sit around for hours at a time on their couch and watch things happen on a little glass screen (TV). Or take Howard Aiken's quote back in 1952; "Originally one thou

      • by T.E.D. (34228)

        I also have an EVO (3D now), and you are defintitely right about how worthless its voice rec stuff is. However, its going to take a lot of convincing to get me to think such a feature on an electronic device would ever be something I'll find useful.

        People used to say the exact same crapola about hadwriting recognition. Look how useless and unwanted that turned out to be.

        IMHO it isn't "vision" to think that people will want to use the same error-prone interfaces for their electronic devices that they use

  • What a crock of BS. Has nobody seen Google's voice seach? It already does 99% of what Siri does, and all they have to do is make a different app with the same code as google voice and just add a series of lookup tables that convert common phrase fragments into Android commands. Easy Peasy. If I had the source code to google voice search, I could do it easily. (I am a professional programmer, btw) it should be fairly easy for Google to duplicate everything Siri does just by adding a little additional c
    • >It already does 99% of what Siri does

      Siri is the 1%!

      Occupy Siri!

    • It already does 99% of what Siri does

      Yeah, if by 99% you mean about 70% and with structured, formal commands. Apple had that too.

      and all they have to do is make a different app with the same code as google voice and just add a series of lookup tables that convert common phrase fragments into Android commands. Easy Peasy

      Yeah, simple. Why haven't those guys simply done it yet, it's so simple! I could do it in my spare time and make a fortune, but I'll just sit back smugly and let Apple have their day. Those jerks.

    • The power isn't in knowing HOW to do it. It's WHY and WHAT. Yes, if I told you I'd like it to understand "remember the milk when I leave home", you might be smart enough to build some tables that understands starting a phrase with remember means a "to do". You probably would have missed "when I leave home" to mean "around 9am, since tomorrow is Tuesday and that's when I leave", and you almost certainly wouldn't have though to build the geofencing feature, so that the reminder would actually fire as your car
  • by alen (225700) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:20AM (#37932542)

    Apple already sends a lot of the SiRi search outside of google. If a lot of smaller data companies sign up to be apple partners then google will lose a lot of search traffic. or at least a lot of the good and profitable search traffic

    • by KarolisP (1538799)
      what's the point of good search traffic when you cannot put ads nearby? OR if you put ads INTO search results - they become biased and unwelcome (mcdonalds for EVERY meal EVERYtime?)
  • Siri is the best jedi mind trick Apple has pulled so far. It is amazing how much press this one feature is generating. My prediction is that in 6months nobody is using it anymore.. just like facetime (anyone still remember what that was?).
  • by NiteShaed (315799) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:21AM (#37932550)

    "Gary Morgenthaler, a recognized expert in artificial intelligence and a Siri board member

    Wow, board member of company says company's technology is the most amazing and groundbreaking thing since sliced bread. What a surprise. This just in, Bill Gates says Windows is the best OS, and Larry Ellison says Oracle databases are hands-down unbeatable.

    I don't blame the guy for saying it, of course he probably thinks his product is the best. Maybe he even believes the thing about the two-year advantage, but he's also got a pretty vested interest in making other people believe it too.

  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:21AM (#37932554)
    I just see this as a confirming instance of large advertisers being able to control the content of publication. I know from personal experience that if I advertised enough in a publication they would let me write the stories. When you are at Apple's level it looks like they give you a reporter to do it for you.
  • What a bunch of biased bullshit...

  • This is just scary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:30AM (#37932636)

    "Apple's biggest advantage over any other voice application out there today is the massive data Siri will collect in the next 2 years"

    Anyone else regard that statement with pure horror?

  • by NimbleSquirrel (587564) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:31AM (#37932654)
    Seriously, Apple seems to be grasping at straws for any edge over Android phones. I'm not going to make comparisons between Siri and Google Voice Search, as plenty of others are doing that. What I will say is that Siri (and other voice command systems) are gimmicks at best. Unless their entire client base is visually impaired, I doubt that it will see any serious day-to-day use once the novelty has worn off. Texting and twitter are growing because people aren't talking into their phones. What makes Apple think that Siri will change that trend?
    • by AnttiV (1805624) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:45AM (#37932820)
      Seriously, mod parent up. Although voice-activated things have been possible for the longest time (voice dialling, google voice search, etc), I have NEVER heard ANYONE use those. Ever. At least here in Finland, people DO NOT speak to the PHONES, they speak, THROUGH the phone to someone else. Jeez, we don't even speak to answering machines, we hang up :D Much, much, MUCH than more important than Siri to people I know, is the ability to personalize, everything. Covers, ringtones, logos, you name it. I have witnessed about 5 or 6 circumstances where people have bought and Android phone over iPhone SOLELY for the fact that you can't "mod" iPhone in any way that would have a real impact. Every iPhone in this whole world looks (almost) EXACTLY like the other. You cannot make an iPhone "your" phone, it is "just an iPhone", where as with Android, you can. From where I stand, THIS is the killer feature, rather than voice commands. People customize pretty much everything they own, so phones are just a natural extension of that habit.
    • While the AI aspect is interesting, the accurate voice recognition is at least a large a hurdle - and Google (via Voice and the Android search) has been collecting more data than Apple can even dream of for the past couple of years.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      I think the primary use is for scheduling, reminders and that sort of thing. It's not so much typing as it is navigating menus, setting dates and so on. "Remind me to [something] next thursday" that pulls up a new reminder, set to next thursdag is fairly useful even if the [something] bit isn't always right. Do you realize how many people don't know how to navigate their phone properly and go hunting through the menus all the time? And it doesn't matter that the feature has been on Android, the same people

    • While I think the article is just a slashvertisement for Apple, I have to disagree about the usefulness of voice recognition. Food Mill (my Android shopping app) is significantly faster to use with voice input than with manual input. The only reason I don't use voice input more often is that it isn't always available. Sometimes the voice recognizer works, but it frequently will error out with an inability to connect. Since I don't have time to switch back and forth between voice and manual input, I just

  • Laughable... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Assmasher (456699) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:36AM (#37932720) Journal

    ...Siri is a decent aggregation of existing voice recognition, grammar based interactivity, and knowledge base retrieval. People, including ourselves, have been doing this for years. Our company does this in a more limited fashion, but technically very very similarly to allow Pentagon staff officers (and others) to navigate the GINORMOUS amounts of documentation that arise from large scale plans (thousands upon thousands of PDFs) - for example: "I need to see all of the documents produced in 2007 relating to humvee mine resistance testing" - "Sure, Dave, I can do that..." - and bingo 27 PDFs show up in a (rather special ;) ) UI.

    Siri is Apple's way of drawing attention from the fact that they do not have an iPhone 5, or an iPad 3. It is Apple's way of drawing attention away from the fact that Android phones are out 'innovating' them in the hardware arena. Apple knows that they are winning the individual phone brand battle, but starting to lose the mobile war; ergo, the purchase of Saab defense systems mapping software in order to cut themselves further from Google.

    It is the PC market playing itself out all over again. Apple makes a great software platform, but is greedy about it and doesn't let other hardware manufacturer's use that platform (not to mention their greed in the App market - protecting us from ourselves? LOL), locks out Flash, locks out Java (because they're unstable and really not part of the web - LOL again.) All of these decisions work great for Apple in the short run (5 years or so - just like with the PC) - in the long run it literally kills them.

    Siri is a distraction akin to "hey, hey! Look over here at this hand, not the hand holding virtually the same phone you've been buying for so long now..."

  • 60 comments (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pikoro (844299) <init@iPOLLOCKnit.sh minus painter> on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:39AM (#37932750) Homepage Journal

    And nobody noticed that this means apple is recording and analyzing every Sirius command?! Creepy!

    • Re:60 comments (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Oswald McWeany (2428506) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:46AM (#37932840)

      Not just that- they voice profile you.

      Your Siri learns your voice and learns to understand you. The schematics of your individual voice is mapped.

      So now in this privacy-free world- facebook can pick your face out of a crowd and identify you and Apple can hear your voice and identify you. Not long ago there was stories about software that can identify you by your walk.

      Scary- there is no anonymosity anymore... ... except on slashdot- and I have ways of finding out who Anonymous Coward really is.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:41AM (#37932766) Journal
    I am totally soured by most of the automated phone response systems that does voice recognition. All phone systems are irritating but the failure rate in these voice recognition is particularly aggravating. Some allow me to punch in the numbers. Others force me to speak the responses. I speak with a slight South Indian accent, (no stress on stressed syllables, rolled rr-s, pause at unexpected places. I say slight because I have made presentations to large audience and spoken on phone to customers and teleconferences without any problem, without people asking me to repeat, scored 5 out 6 in Test of Spoken English taken when I was a TA in grad school). The voice recognition in GPS devices and cellphones too are very substandard for people with even slight accents. How good is Siri for such groups?

    One thing that really took me by pleasant surprise was Google's non-English transliteration engine built into edit boxes/text compose windows of all google sites. English has just five vowels with y and w coming in very occasionally to support vowel sounds . Most Asian languages have distinct glyphs for at least 12 vowels (long and short forms separated and a few more). Google allows me to type using an English key board, when I hit a space, it changes text to the selected Indian language. If the text is not exact, I press backspace, and it creates a drop down box that typically has a few variations, and I am surprised how good its guesses are about what I was planning to type.

    If Google has been collecting such data about the most common english transliteration for the most common words in other languages, it has a treasure trove of stuff. If that probability engine could be adapted to voice, it would have a global reach. If Siri has an American English focus, its lead is definitely not two years. Do not count the non-native English speakers out. Hispanic population is increasing and they use smart phones to access the net mostly. On the high end, the median family income of Asian Americans is the highest for any ethnic group. Almost double that of Hispanics, the lowest. That probably would make the ratio 3 or even 4 when it comes to disposable income. Citation provided [census.gov]. Unless they tackle both ends of the income spectrum, siri is not going to make as big a wave as these talking heads are talking about.

  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:45AM (#37932822) Homepage Journal
    Two year advantage? How about NO advantage? I've got a Samsung Galaxy S II in my pocket right now that I can talk to in "natural language" -- it's every bit as functional and accurate as Siri and I don't have to handcuff myself to the phone's manufacturer to use it.
  • by Andy Smith (55346) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:54AM (#37932938) Homepage

    After 2 years of using Android, going from love to hate, I returned to iPhone with the 4S. I hadn't even heard of Siri til I was leaving the store with the 4S and noticed Siri mentioned on a poster.

    Siri is useful in a very limited number of circumstances. I routinely use Siri to set an alarm. S/he seems to be good at understanding stock market enquiries too. But the natural language parsing can be very random at times. For example, try "set a countdown for 10 minutes" -- sometimes you'll get "I don't understand", sometimes you'll get an alarm clock set for 10 mins from now, and sometimes you'll get what you want which is a timer counting down from 10 minutes. Try "set a timer for 10 minutes" and you'll get the same range of mis-understanding.

    I'm fine with Siri being how it is at the moment. I know it will get better and more useful, especially when it can work with maps / businesses outside the US. But it is still definitely a beta product that is usually slower than performing the task yourself.

    Siri in a year or two should be great. I'm looking forward to it.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @08:54AM (#37932956) Homepage

    Siri is a great demo or toy, it falls on it's face because it does not have an option to deliver ALL responses in voice.

    I.E. I am driving and my phone in in my pocket, I should be able to hit the BT answer button to activate siri, ask something or give it a command, the response is completely in speech, I can then continue the commands and all responses are in speech, I should never have to touch the phone or look at it's screen.

    Two reasons, First, accessibility, Siri is a utter joke to anyone that is blind... when it displays the result it's useless. The same problem is for normal abled people when in a situation where it is not safe to look at the device.

    Second, Honestly voice control over something that returns the result on a screen is an Epic Fail. Come on, This is voice control, give me 100% voice response. I should be able to do all this without looking while walking down the street.

    I hope they fix it, but I doubt it. it's really only a toy and done at a server farm instead of in the phone. Maybe when we are walking around with dual quad core processors in our phone they can do it in the phone.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @09:02AM (#37933044)

    According to the summary, siri is a google killer and makes apple the best smartphone platform.

    For those assumptions to be true, that means that siri has to be something that people want. While I admit there is a somewhat star trekian cool factor by talking to your phone. On*Star has had similar features. Ford's respond to voice commands and read text messages, etc. And yet, people aren't dumping their current cars for these must have features.

    Granted siri is beyond the capabilities of On*Star and the like, but does the public really want to use a phone where you say everything out load for everybody around you to hear, too?

    User on subway: Read Text Message.
    Phone: From Sharon, I think it's time we move on and see other people.
    User on subway: Damn.
    Other riders on subway: Awwwww.

    Don't get me wrong, there are times that this would be useful, but is it a necessity? If not, then how will it kill google ?

  • by harl (84412) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @09:08AM (#37933142)
    Remember Siri was available on all phones until Apple bought it and shut it down on competing phones.

    Bill would be proud.

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