Siri is not a search engine technically and it’s not intended to be a replacement for Google. It’s intended to enable you to do more with your voice and your phone in fewer clicks or moves. Rather than showing you information or lists of choices it’s intended to be “transactional,” to help accomplish things. Siri “helps you get things done when you’re on the go” says the demo below.
Another major step away from the much derided “10 blue links.”
Siri provides a voice-enabled, “conversational” interface (using speech recognition from Nuance) and taps into a range of APIs, from companies such as Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo, Taxi Magic, WeatherBug, Rotten Tomatoes, Google Maps, Eventful and Allmenus.com among others. These are launch partners but others will be added. Eventually, you’ll be able to specify preferred sites (I like Kayak rather than Orbitz for example).
Here’s Opus Research’s Dan Miller’s assessment:
Today the App Store in Apple’s iTunes site begins distributing Siri, a new app that transforms the iPhone into a “virtual personal assistant.” I know, we’ve heard the term before, describing precursor services like Wildfire, HeyAnita or the product of General Magic. Yet, in all those cases, the principal roles of the Virtual Assistant was to handle scheduling, messaging and simple directory-based activities (call origination, incoming call handling and the like).
Siri is set apart because it applies the depth of knowledge its founders and software specialists have built at SRI and elsewhere in creating a “cognitive assistant that learns and organizes” (CALO). Siri users benefit from a voluminous amount of pre-preprocessing and organization of information that has been carried out “in the cloud” on their behalf.
More from Techmeme here.
Siri’s content partners are almost without exception about real-world activities and events and an informal “tag line” is “Siri helps you get things done when you’re on the go.” (Mobile devices help people see clearly the connection between the digital and real worlds, which they have trouble seeing when the discussion is about PC influence on offline buying.)
As a technical matter Siri isn’t a search engine in the sense that it doesn’t maintain an index or crawl the Internet. It taps into partner APIs to enable “transactions.” But from a consumer perspective it will be used in the same way that search is often used on mobile devices today.
If you’re an iPhone (3GS) owner, download it and see what you think. It will become more broadly available soon. Siri is also a counterpoint to the argument that HTML5 and mobile Web will kill apps; can’t do all this with HTML5.
Hurry, get Google corp dev on the phone . . . .