Five Things That Apple’s Intelligent Assistant Siri Should Do

Examples of Using Apple's iOS Intelligent Assistant Siri

The potential that the intelligent assistant Siri represents in the Apple iPhone 4S is significant. The technology that powers Siri currently lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, take dictation and more.

And if you haven’t already seen “Shit that Siri Says“, I would recommend checking out the site. There are some fun responses and easter egg’s in the technology, but it is clear Siri is also being used for amusement.

Unfortunately there are some very important tasks that Siri isn’t very helpful with at the moment. As the technology is clearly labeled “beta” on Apple’s website it is safe to assume more funtionality is coming, but at what rate? Here are five things that I wish Siri could do now.

Apple's Intelligent Assistant Siri Can Not Help With Flights1. Travel Planning

Unfortunately if you ask Siri to book a flight to San Francisco you get a response saying “Sorry Dennis, I can’t help you with flights.”

At the very least it would be wonderful to see Siri give ask for a range of dates and then show a list of flights from a provider like Google, Kayak or others. A more successful solution would be to actually allow you to begin booking flight reservations.

This shouldn’t stop with flights either. From car rentals to hotels, Siri should have the ability to help you plan your travel.

2. Dining Reservations

Along the lines of travel planning, I would like to be able to reserve a table at a local restaurant via Siri.

With an OpenTable partnership this would appear to be a simple solution. Perhaps this functionality will return to Siri soon.

3. Find the Cheapest Gas

We are all trying to save money these days. Siri is helpful in finding locations near you with Location Services turned on. Unfortunately the intelligent assistant can not look for price ranges on gas.

There are a variety of services that collect this data. It would appear to be a simple implementation to layer one more data point across your search for the nearest gas station.

4. Post to Twitter

This seems like a no-brainer with the Twitter integration in iOS 5, so I don’t know how Apple missed this one. I just would like to be able to send a tweet to one of my contacts or to a Twitter handle I specify.

Not too much to ask for, right?

5. Response Windows or Active Listening

So what do I mean by “response windows?” Siri already has the ability to take advantage of the iPhone’s orientation to know that you may be calling someone. At that point you can speak a name and Siri will dial the number.

What if Apple created similar windows of opportunity? When my alarm goes off I would like the opportunity to turn it off with my voice, or perhaps a groan.

When a text message arrives could Siri prompt me for a response? Could the same be said for high priority e-mails?

Active listening may drain too much battery life and have a difficult time recognizing your voice. But response windows would allow you to really harness the power of Siri without those issues.

This could be a preference that would be turned on with a Siri voice command, via the lock screen or your settings.

6. Provide an API for Siri

Ok, so I said five thing but Apple could replicate the success of it’s App Store by opening up Siri to developers. With an API available for Siri developers would be able to build specific commands into the platform.

Perhaps Siri would require an additional app to be installed to display the data, but I wouldn’t mind that. The biggest hurdle I see is who owns what commands? If I did a flight search as mentioned above would that come from Kayak or Southwest Airlines?

Apple could work with specific partners, but the opportunity to create more functionality is too hard to resist. Apple, please release an API.

7. Siri to Search

Ok, one more.

I am a big proponent of removing the search screen on the iPhone. The technology could have been in a pull down before the redesigned notification center.

Why not just use Siri to execute a search on your iOS device? This would remove a wasted screen and could still replicate the exact same search results screen.

In Closing

What would you do to make Siri even more useful? As an intelligent assistant the technology is a great start with much promise, but there are some glaring holes. Could Siri have different voices? Is active listening something you would find useful? Share your thoughts below or find me on Twitter (@djenders).

VP Digital & Social, GMR Marketing
  1. Number 2 – Previously Siri had OpenTable integration, I’m sure once it comes out of beta/api this will be solved.

    Number 4 – This is pretty easy to solve, you just tell siri to text “Twitter” which is a contact with the number 40404.

    Number 6 – This is coming and to be fair it’s in beta right now. also (http://www.rememberthemilk.com/services/siri/)

    Number 7 – I don’t agree with at all. What if you are in a place where you can’t talk into your phone, like say work? and when you have a million applications it’s much faster to type in a few letters and get the app you want instead of bringing up siri, say what you want and have it process the request.

    1. It would be great to see OpenTable come back, which I alluded to as well.

      I’ve seen the hacks for using Twitter as a name to publish to your account, but it’s still a workaround when it could be integrated.

      I saw what Remember the Milk was doing, but again without a true API integration.

      I’m curious how many people really use the search screen, it is a lot of screen real estate for one box. I like the pull to refresh and pull down for search in most apps, including Apple Mail.

      And it would be nice to keep a level of privacy so you don’t need to talk to search, but should be easy enough to make happen as a supplement to the current search.

  2. Good luck on Apple introducing an API. They’ve always been such a closed company…

    I’m trying to figure out how to leverage Siri as a brainstorming assistant. It would be nice if it integrated with Evernote. Right now, on my iPhone 3GS, I dictate ideas into Dragon Dictate, then copy and paste them into Evernote, one chunk at a time. It’s a slow process, which tends to interrupt my creative “flow.” Still, it’s better than typing in many situations.

    1. Yea I fear that Siri may be closed off except for the most important partners with Apple.

      I tried Dragon Dictate again recently, and found the same issue. It’s just too slow for me to jump between the apps. At that point I might as well just call Google Voice, leave myself a message and let it be transcribed. I could then output the MP3 or text to Evernote. Only issue is the “minutes” you are using against your plan.

      No real dictating solution is kind of sad.

      Dennis

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