Siri the Digital Assistant
I have had Siri in my life for over a decade now, it came out in October of 2011 with the iPhone 4S. From the very beginning I thought the idea was pretty cool, I even used the Siri app before Apple acquired them earlier that year, but I knew things would be tenuous when I visited my brother the week I got the iPhone 4S across state and Siri stopped working for me when I left my hometown…only to start working again when I got back home again, which was bizarre and did not make for a great technical demo when I went to go use one of the tentpole features, I laughed it off to being hot out of the Xcode compiler though. Over the year Siri has gotten a lot of flak and rightly so, but silently over the last couple of years starting with the release of the original HomePod and its addition to the AppleTV I’ve found that its slowly been getting better. This week I purchased a 2022 Nissan Altima and it has CarPlay built into it, one of the main driving features for buying a new car to replace my 2013 Toyota Camry. It did hit me when I was driving to work one morning this week that now I have Siri ambiently everywhere I go and that’s pretty cool. I can now ask Siri for directions, for it to play music or podcasts, to send or reply to text message, and even dictate reminders without grabbing my iPhone in my car. As I walk around the world I can talk to Siri from my watch or AirPods Pro without pulling my iPhone out. When I’m in the office I can use Siri hand-free from my laptop or iPad Pro as well. When I’m home I have the HomePods and HomePod mini. Apple has a nice page that tells you everything that Siri can do
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I really wish Apple would revisit the idea of a “Proactive Siri” that they first showed with the Siri Watch face and widgets. A Siri Home Screen like Google Now on the iPhone/iPad/Mac would be pretty cool. Maybe swipe to the left side of the main Home Screen instead of “Today” screen and on the Mac you could have it a modern version of Dashboard. Right now having the widgets and the notifications on the Mac on the same thin stripe is a cluttered mess. I feel like Siri has gotten really good at being able to do what you want a digital assistant to do like set reminders, check your calendar, answer basic questions like the weather, set timers, play music/podcasts, but I think the dream of a proactive assistant is something that Apple needs to keep working on.
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I trust Apple with my data and feel like they’re a good steward of it by giving me control of how my data is managed and showing who is requesting it so I trust them to do the right thing with a more proactive assistant. I’m pretty deep in the Apple ecosystem at this point with my devices and using Apple One so I would be ok with deeply connecting my data, presence, location, daily habits, etc across devices. I would want it to be opt-in of course and granular with what data and powers you give Siri, but I would love to have a more intelligent assistant that I can trust in my daily life. As long as the agreement was in plain English, the connections transparent and understandable, I would be fine with it and welcome it.