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.
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.
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).