Why Google and Apple Should Take a Look at Siri

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-02-05 Print this article Print

The battle for the mobile Web is getting more interesting, with Apple filing location-based patents that compete with Google's Latitude location feature for Google Maps and both Google (AdMob) and Apple (Quattro) bidding for ad networks to monetize the mobile Web.

Out of Stanford University's research arm comes Siri, a company whose mobile application leverages artificial intelligence to conduct transactions for smartphone users looking to book a table at a restaurant or buy movie tickets while on the go.

I profiled Siri on eWEEK here in detail today, but you should really see the demo video for yourself to grok the technology:


If you like what you see and you're an iPhone user, you're in luck. You can download it from Apple's App Store today. Android and RIM users will have to wait a few months before Siri for those platforms is ready.

But surely you can see how this sort of smart machine learning app would be a smash hit for people doing voice search on their smartphones, no matter what platform they use.

Sure, you can grab your Google Nexus One, and do searches with your voice, or fill in text fields by speaking, but Siri seems not only more accurate in the tests I've see, but more actionable.

Siri CEO Dag Kittlaus told me the key difference between Google's voice search and Siri:

Search engines don't work like Siri. They do statistical matching on indexes and they don't understand what you're trying to do; they're just correlating words to words that exist on Websites. Google will give you information that has the promise to get you where you want to go, but you have to go down several streams and you often find out it wasn't what you thought it was. Siri holds your hand all the way through the process until you've completed the task.

It's fairly likely Siri is one of those apps that represent the future of mobile, location-based search and transactions for users who will expect to simply speak their requests and let the software do the rest, find service providers and execute transactions.

Whether they boosted or squashed the Siri app, Google and Apple would no doubt love to have the talent behind it, including Kittlaus; Adam Cheyer, co-founder and vice president of engineering; and co-founder and CTO Tom Gordon, for their mobile apps teams.

Don't be surprised if Google, Apple or even Nokia buys out Siri for the technology and talent behind it.

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