Analyst: No Siri for OS X 10.9

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Apple's Siri voice control system is already available in iOS 6 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, but don't expect to see it show up in OS X 10.9. That's according to Ezra Gottheil from Technology Business Report who thinks Apple will have to update Mac hardware before OS X can support Siri.

Apple probably doesn't have plans to bring Siri to OS X 10.9Apple probably doesn't have plans to bring Siri to OS X 10.9

Part of the issue, according to Mr. Gottheil, is that Macs have a single microphone, where the iPhone sports multiple mics to better filter out background noise. "Siri would require hardware modifications as well as software," he said.

He added that while Apple has offered ever since iOS 6 was introduced, it's Google that's bringing legitimacy to voice controlled interfaces. According to Computerworld, he said,

Google Now legitimizes this interface. Apple has a lead in a clearly protectable arena, but [Google Now] legitimizes voice, sort of like when Microsoft legitimized the graphic user interface when it borrowed it from Apple, and when Apple borrowed it from [Xerox] PARC.

The idea that it's hardware limitations keeping Siri off the Mac for now, however, is a hard pill to swallow. Even before OS X and Apple's switch to Intel processors, Macs could handle some speech recognition, and software has been on the market for years that lets Mac users control their computers with their voice.

Rapid Repair CEO Aaron Vronko pointed out that most of Siri's horespower comes from Apple's own servers and not built-in chips, and that Macs are probably in quieter locations more often than our cell phones. "When you're talking [to Siri] on an iPhone, you're often in a car or in a crowd," he said.

If Apple isn't bringing Siri to OS X 10.9, it's more likely that the company doesn't thing the time is right to add the feature. Currently, APple's engineers are working on getting OS X 10.9 and iOS 7 ready to preview at June's Worldwide Developers Conference, and a nonworking version of Siri on the Mac wouldn't go over well at the event.

Apple could also have other plans for Siri on the Mac, such as making it a feature that's exclusive to future models, or the company may think that Siri is a more personal technology and doesn't have a place in an office full of Macs where workers would all be talking to their computers at the same time.

It's also possible that Siri on the Mac has been put on hold while Apple pushes to get iOS 7 ready for a fall launch. Industrial Design vice president Jonathan Ive has apparently shifted engineers from OS X 10.9 to iOS 7 to keep the project on shedule, and with fewer coders working on Mountain Lion's repalcement, there's a good chance some planned features are now on hold.

In other words, there are plenty of reasons why Apple will likely exclude Siri from OS X 10.9, but hardware limitations isn't one of them.

Apple plans to give users and developers a preview look at iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 at WWDC in June, so we'll have a better idea then of what to expect when both roll out later this year -- but don't hold your breath for Siri on the Mac just yet.

Comments

Lee Dronick

Not quite the correct graphic for the story. Siri is indeed a brunet, but more of a “librarian” type with well groomed shoulder length hair, and eyeglasses. At least in my fantasy. smile

I agree that we probably will not have Siri on OS X until a new desktop Mac and or new MacBook makes the scene.

Andhaka

I had voice password in Os9 and used apps to transript my voice on a iMac G3.
I find it difficult to believe it’s just a hardware problem. As for the mics, implement some nice BT earpiece to be used ad input device. This way I can command my Mac from anywhere in the house, how cool would that be? wink

Cheers

jbruni

We have had speech recognition in Mac OS for quite awhile, starting with Quadra 800av, with progressively better usability. However, I’m still not convinced that speech recognition in a desktop system is all that useful. Most of the time, Macs are used in environments where speech UI would be annoying to everyone around.

I think speech recognition in a desktop suffers from the same or similar problem that a touch screen on a desktop does: It’s just not a good fit for the environment in which they are used.

webjprgm

What exactly can Siri do on an iPhone that would be useful on a Desktop?  The uses that I know:
- Hands-free dialing
- Hands-free music controls
- Voice UI to search (Google, Wolfram Alpha, sports, restaurants, etc.)
- Dictation

From that list, we already have Dictation in OS X 10.8. Hands-free controls are not needed (there’s no dialing, for music it would just be a useless show-off feature). So that leaves just searching. Do we need a voice UI for desktop internet search?

It doesn’t sound like too much work to get the Siri internet search stuff working. They already had to deal with desktop/laptop microphone issues for Dictation. So they can just plug the interpreted speech from that into Siri’s back-end to perform a search. Most of the work, then, would be UI.  I imagine if they don’t do it it would be more from lack of desire than lack of resources.

Where things start to really get interesting is when you can tell the computer what you want it to do and it hooks into your installed applications (maybe like hooking into scripting definitions for AppleScript) to formulate a plan to get it done, then it shows you the plan and executes it.  This would take a lot of development, since it’s not something that Siri already does.  I imagine the iOS 7 resource diversion would likely rule out this kind of UI for OS X 10.9.

Bob Johnson

Did anyone forget the fact that dictation is on the Mac already so voice recognition hardware isn’t an issue at all whatsoever. Whoever is saying that the hardware isn’t ‘capable’ isn’t true. The article is also very incorrect when it states Macs have only one single microphone the newer generation models that are currently in production contain two or more microphones for notice cancellation technology.

iJack

“What exactly can Siri do on an iPhone that would be useful on a Desktop?”

Ooo, metric tons more!

Siri, move Filename to trash.
Siri, move Filename to Documents, My Snapshots, Private.
Siri, print current file.
Siri, save current file as a PDF.
Siri, play the next episode in my Netflix queue.
Siri, open ESPNgo in a separate browser window.
Siri, check my Mail inbox for messages from John.
Siri, open Disk Warrior and optimize directory for Drivename.
Siri, Repair Permission on Homedrive.

Shall I go on?

wab95

What exactly can Siri do on an iPhone that would be useful on a Desktop?

@webjprgm: picking up where iJack left off, while I don’t think that Siri would be anywhere near what I’m about to describe on OS X 10.9, even if all the king’s horses and all the king’s men (or at least, Sir Jony’s) were bent into service, here is where I believe voice on the Mac is headed. It is about rendering our computers more effectively into personal assistants. The following is a loose translation of one my recent conference calls with colleagues while trying to develop a multi-country clinical trial. Everywhere that you see ‘Siri’, in current time, this is me typing on my MBP’s keyboard while talking to colleagues either on Skype or speaker phone, but I believe these are functions that a more powerful interface will soon take over.

Colleague1: In order to do X, we need to know more about the at-risk population. Does anyone have any data on this?

Me: I do (while making notes to self on needing info on X); ‘Siri open Stata and access the [redacted] phase I study file’. I’m pulling up some data now, in the meantime, let’s discuss endpoints. We need to agree on what we can measure across all sites.

Colleagues 1 - 5:  Agreed. Discussion begins

Me (with Skype muted, but listening to colleagues): Siri: In Stata, sort Treatment_group.
Siri: Treatment group sorted.
Me: Siri: Table Treatment_group, contents number age median interquartile range. Siri: graph boxplot on duration_illness, by Treatment_group.

Me: We’ll have some data in a minute, meanwhile, back to outcomes (and me making further notes while discussing with colleagues, and Siri crunching data quietly but quickly in the background), discussion continues.

Me: Okay, this is what my data show…[discussion continues and while it does, I go back to Siri off-mic]

Siri: open Endnote. Siri: Within Endnote, access PubMed online. Siri: In PubMed, search ‘X vaccine trials between 2003 - 2013’ and attach all texts.

Me: I’m pulling up all published references in the past 10 years to see what’s been done by other teams…

This is the sort of thing that a powerful can assist with, freeing me to do more cerebral work, while Siri assists with the directed personal assistant role, which would steal my time and compromise my ability to engage in the conference call.

I have no illusions about where we are, or how long it will take to get to where I would like, but this is where I believe this interface is headed. Just as when laptops first came out, they were anaemic little clunkers that were only modestly functional, but were considered by most users a class of sub-computer in terms of performance, and now serve for many users as their mainstay workhorse; voice interface today on iOS is merely a proof of principle placeholder. True voice interface, in which APIs are made available to developers so that Siri can access apps throughout the system, not only on iOS but in OS X, will be the first step down the road to becoming that workhorse.

The possibilities are as limitless as are our imaginations, and a pinch of time.

Paul Goodwin

It will happen because they communicated with their ship computer that way in Star Trek in the 60s. No way that hardware is holding this back. It’s resources and priorities.

Paul Goodwin

Ad HAHAHAHA Lee on what Siri looks like. We’d probably be shocked an disappointed…...tattoos, piercings everywhere, and striped hair. Tell me it isn’t so.

iJack

@wab95 ~ Me likeum! 

I think at some point, Siri would have to stop being a separate, stand-alone app, and become tightly integrated part of the OS/(new) Finder to make this future a reality. Siri needs to know everything, and how to find and organize it.

Lepton

To make Siri do useful things on osx, you really want an API, something it doesn’t have - yet. I believe Siri will appear on osx soon after a developer API is released for it - which may be soon!

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