A few years ago, a little-known voice recognition application called Siri appeared on Apple’s App Store to widespread acclaim. In 2010, Apple themselves acquired the rights to Siri and began to plan.
In October 2011, Siri disappeared from the App Store, and the very next day, Apple released their long-awaited new smartphone: the iPhone 4S, with Siri being peddled as the flagship feature of the phone. Apple reported that 4 million handsets were sold within 3 days, in spite of the fact that many of Siri’s best features are only available to American customers.
Siri ready to hit the road
Now in 2012, after driving tens of millions of people up the wall, Siri is set help drivers on the roads, by being integrated into cars. Motorists will soon be able to active Siri by tapping their steering wheel and make a hands-free call, dictate text messages or emails, and control the radio, air conditioning and sat nav.
Of course this is nothing new. Ford and Chrysler already have voice command systems in place. But Apple didn’t make the first mp3 player or the first smartphone so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Siri quickly becomes the most used voice recognition solution on the road.
Indeed, Apple claim that eight major car manufacturers have signed up to implement Siri into their next models, including General Motors, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Jaguar. This represents a huge marketshare, with the only notable exception being Ford, who have teamed up with Apple rivals Microsoft to offer their similar ‘Sync’ service.
Apple appealing to safety-conscious road users
Apple are keen to emphasize the safety benefits of having Siri in the car with you, and are calling the concept ‘Eyes Free’ as it will allow you to do many things in the car without taking your eyes from the road. But not all road safety campaigners are convinced. Some say that more technology in the car, such as Siri will prove to be a distraction, and some hardliner safety advocates recommend that people shouldn’t speak at all while driving.
It remains to be seen how worldwide customers will benefit from Siri, as the mapping and business finding part of the software is still only available in America. Looking into the future however, Apple may well be about to revolutionize the way we drive and use cars, but until they can help to find the chocolates in the glove compartment without making me veer off the road, this driver won’t be getting too excited just yet.