Why Android could still eclipse iOS + Siri…Posted: October 12, 2011
I’m impressed with Siri. I really am.
It looks like the first natural language productivity-type app that works well. Tell Siri to set a reminder? She complies. Ask her for a restaurant? She searches yelp for you. Ask for a hospital? She tells you the closest one. Ask her to open the pod bay doors? Uhh… check!
Siri’s achilles heel is iOS. No – I’m not talking “Apple sucks OMG!!!” type problems, I mean fundamental problems in iOS that will prevent Siri from being what it could, and maybe will be on Android.
At the heart of the Siri differences is the concept of app integration. In the iPhone world, Siri must be programmed with every integrated service she is desired to work with. There are talks of future iOS upgrades to add functionality to Siri.
If Siri existed in its current form on Android, this would largely be unnecessary. Intents solve this problem.
In a nutshell, an intent is a programmatical object that wants to “do something with something else”. An intent could be something like “take a picture then pass it as an object to the facebook app so I can post it.” In Android, intents are seriously powerful interactivity enhancers. They’re what makes it possible to take a picture with the default camera app, then go into the picture preview, tap the “share” button and viola – a list of every single app installed on the handset that can accept a picture object. Try the same thing on iOS and you get a fixed list of the things iOS knows what to do with. If you haven’t tried it, run down to your local wireless store and do the test I suggest above if they’ll let you. It’s not just a list of a few items – on my Droid, it’s about 20 different applications, from my twitter client (Plume) to SMS (Handcent), bluetooth (!!!!), share it as a QR code, Gmail, etc. The best way to add something to the list? Install an application that accepts a picture object.
It remains to be seen if this capability will be utilized to its fullest, but here’s a neat list of two apps that already do something like it in the Android world. http://www.droid-life.com/2011/10/12/jealous-of-siri-then-check-out-these-android-apps/