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Apple's Siri Was Originally a Super Genius; for Android Too

By - Source: Huffington Post | B 20 comments

Apple's Siri is a watered-down version of an extremely intelligent AI capable of calling you a cab.

The Huffington Post has an interesting story about the history of Apple's Siri, painting a picture of a now-watered-down AI that originally made its debut as a foul-mouthed standalone app for iOS and Android back in 2010. That's right: Siri used to say the F-word, something you'll never hear the virtual assistant say now that she sleeps under Apple's roof.

Dag Kittlaus, Siri's co-founder and chief executive, said that the AI's attitude had been carefully crafted, and it even had a backstory. Siri was to be "otherworldly" and armed with a dry wit, but vaguely aware of popular culture. It didn't communicate with a voice, but replied to the user with text based on information pulled from 42 different web services like Yelp, StubHub, Rotten Tomatoes, Wolfram Alpha and more.

"It had been able to buy tickets, reserve a table and summon a taxi, all without a user having to open another app, register for a separate service or place a call. It was already on the verge of 'intuiting' a user's pet peeves and preferences to the point that it would have been able to seamlessly match its suggestions to his or her personality," the Huffington Post writes.

Siri was originally designed to be a "do engine" that was capable of holding conversations with its users (which Apple still tries to convey in its Siri commercials). A user who had too many drinks could simply say "I'm drunk take me home," and Siri would have enough smarts to send a car service to the user's present location.

Siri's roots actually stems back to the Defense Department-funded project CALO, or Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes. The project was developed at the non-profit Stanford Research Institute (SRI) international research lab which contracted with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Members of the team saw that the technology could lead to a profitable company, thus the 24-person startup Siri was founded by Kittlaus along with Adam Cheyer (VP Engineering) from SRI, and Tom Gruber (CTO/VP Design).

In 2009, Verizon signed a deal with Siri to make the virtual assistant a default app on all Android phones set to launch in 2010. But Apple quickly swooped in and purchased the company, insisting that Siri be an iPhone exclusive and thus terminated the Verizon deal. Prior to that, Siri had been available on both Android and iOS for a full two months.

Now Siri is a less robust version of its former self, cut off from most of the services that made it highly intelligent. Since Apple's acquisition, Siri has gained a voice and additional languages, but the AI is far from the conversational intelligence Apple depicts in its TV adverts. Apple's overbloated size has reportedly hindered its ability to forge deals with the services once synced with Siri.

Ultimately the potential for Siri to be great once again is there, but whether it reaches that level again is up to Apple and service providers. To read the full extensive history of Siri, head here.

 

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  • 13 Hide
    uhh3000 , January 23, 2013 11:09 PM
    Apple has a really bad habit of slapping its brand and patents on things it didn't create. This isn't surprising, but it is aggravating. We all know how Apple is, and we all know whoever tries to bring Siri back to its former glory (as this article claims) and actually try to INNOVATE the technology is gonna be sued into the ground, and then some.
  • 12 Hide
    fearless1333 , January 23, 2013 11:42 PM
    Shit, what a surprise, Apple curbing innovation yet again.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    uhh3000 , January 23, 2013 11:09 PM
    Apple has a really bad habit of slapping its brand and patents on things it didn't create. This isn't surprising, but it is aggravating. We all know how Apple is, and we all know whoever tries to bring Siri back to its former glory (as this article claims) and actually try to INNOVATE the technology is gonna be sued into the ground, and then some.
  • 8 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , January 23, 2013 11:30 PM
    I am guessing that in iPhone 6 Apple will release a "better improved" Siri as a brand new feature
  • 12 Hide
    fearless1333 , January 23, 2013 11:42 PM
    Shit, what a surprise, Apple curbing innovation yet again.
  • 1 Hide
    DarkSable , January 23, 2013 11:56 PM
    Uhm, sacre? No, just no. Here, watch this comparison between Siri and Google Voice. (The broadcaster is a fairly attractive woman, if that'll increase your chances of clicking the link.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=grmixtB9dZM

    I have a couple friends with the new iphone who wish they hadn't 'upgraded' - siri in particular is a letdown for them. It's moderately successful if one is in a padded cell, but if there's any other background noise, including gunfire from a video game in the next room, it can't get hardly anything right.
  • 2 Hide
    kinggremlin , January 24, 2013 12:45 AM
    Quote:
    Then I have some idiot go "APPLE DIDNT INVENT VOICE, MICROSOFT HAD IT BEFORE, DUR" well you're right, but Siri is a nearly perfected version. Its improved, it functions properly and with millions of people using it regularly its "training" itself damn quickly.


    I know it wasn't in the first paragraph in the article, so you probably missed it, but Apple didn't create Siri either. They just bought the company that did then dumbed it down and claimed it as their own.
  • 2 Hide
    keither5150 , January 24, 2013 1:19 AM
    Who has the world's best smartphone? Google now is faster and better. Siri is simply annoying.
    How many times can you ask your phone to be your girlfriend before it becomes boring. The answer is 2 times.
  • 2 Hide
    ruel24 , January 24, 2013 1:36 AM
    Yep, I had Siri loaded, but when Apple released their own, they wiped it from my phone... Was a great app!
  • -7 Hide
    otacon72 , January 24, 2013 1:40 AM
    keither5150Who has the world's best smartphone? Google now is faster and better. Siri is simply annoying.How many times can you ask your phone to be your girlfriend before it becomes boring. The answer is 2 times.


    Um put any Google smartphone against any iPhone and Google loses as it pertains to be "faster" which is a useless term.
  • -6 Hide
    ruel24 , January 24, 2013 1:42 AM
    Keither, the iPhone is still setting sales records, while Android is actually losing marketshare in the US to it. Apple also makes a whole lot more money from iOS than Google, Samsung, and Verizon make from Android combined. FWIW, nearly 2/3 the smartphone sales Verizon had in the 4th quarter last year were iPhones.
  • 2 Hide
    digiex , January 24, 2013 1:43 AM
    This article was not written by Zak.
  • 5 Hide
    _Cubase_ , January 24, 2013 2:35 AM
    So, as with anything (or anyone): as soon as Apple comes into the equation the intelligence levels drop exponentially.
  • 0 Hide
    geronimo8 , January 24, 2013 4:19 AM
    I bet Google was thanking them for buying Siri. Look at how good Google Now.
  • 0 Hide
    razzb3d , January 24, 2013 8:51 AM
    "Siri's roots actually stems back to the Defense Department-funded project CALO"

    Skynet anyone? What would it be like if iphones became self aware and tried to take over the world?

    :D 

  • 1 Hide
    fuzzion , January 24, 2013 11:58 AM
    So siri got dumbed down when it moved from Android to Apple?
  • 0 Hide
    g00fysmiley , January 24, 2013 12:50 PM
    ruel24Keither, the iPhone is still setting sales records, while Android is actually losing marketshare in the US to it. Apple also makes a whole lot more money from iOS than Google, Samsung, and Verizon make from Android combined. FWIW, nearly 2/3 the smartphone sales Verizon had in the 4th quarter last year were iPhones.


    apply numbers are down everywhere but in the US , but you are correc tin that they are growing in the US, it is not fair to say they are defeating android though as they are both growing, ios is just getting more of the losses from RIM than google, both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses, i went android for freedom of side loading apps and ease of modification, if somebody wants a closed system but that work well without any desire to modify then ios is a good option.
  • -4 Hide
    robochump , January 24, 2013 4:09 PM
    uhh3000Apple has a really bad habit of slapping its brand and patents on things it didn't create. This isn't surprising, but it is aggravating. We all know how Apple is, and we all know whoever tries to bring Siri back to its former glory (as this article claims) and actually try to INNOVATE the technology is gonna be sued into the ground, and then some.


    You know nothing and cater to your Android fan boys. There is more to the SIRI story as well as other companies that have attempted to copy SIRI and will continue to copy Apple products in general. It is impossible to innovate anything and everything consistently but Apple has lead with innovative designs that are copied repeatedly. Just keep coming up with nonsense about Apple because it makes you feel better and ignore the fact that Android today wouldn't be nearly as popular if it didnt borrow heavily from Apple's built from the ground up iOS.
  • 0 Hide
    xyzzymagic , February 1, 2013 6:40 AM
    robochumpIt is impossible to innovate anything and everything consistently but Apple has lead with innovative designs that are copied repeatedly. Just keep coming up with nonsense about Apple because it makes you feel better and ignore the fact that Android today wouldn't be nearly as popular if it didnt borrow heavily from Apple's built from the ground up iOS.


    You obviously didn't bother to RTFA -- that Siri existed as an app on iOS & Android before Apple is firmly established, both with users that had the old version installed, with the company that created it and the DoD initiative behind it. Apple didn't create or design it.

    Regarding iOS, if you do your research, you'd find that Apple didn't 'design' it from the ground up — they borrowed very heavily from earlier smartphones and even more from the PDAs that serve as ancestors & popular customization programs for them. No different, really, from the way they've "borrowed" components for OS X from BSD (which they built OS X on top of, incidentally) and its sibling Linux. This goes all the way back to when the first Mac was in the planning process and Apple "borrowed" the design for the mouse literally right out of Xerox's R&D area!

    It's sad when people fall for clever identity-based marketing to the point that they stop seeing their purchase as just a well-designed imperfect product, and begin reacting to comments about the company/products as if judgment was being passed on them as a human being instead. Maybe someday we'll find a way to educate kids & adults so they won't be so susceptible to the marketing tactics that produce that mentality.
  • 0 Hide
    uhh3000 , February 3, 2013 3:26 PM
    robochumpYou know nothing and cater to your Android fan boys. There is more to the SIRI story as well as other companies that have attempted to copy SIRI and will continue to copy Apple products in general. It is impossible to innovate anything and everything consistently but Apple has lead with innovative designs that are copied repeatedly. Just keep coming up with nonsense about Apple because it makes you feel better and ignore the fact that Android today wouldn't be nearly as popular if it didnt borrow heavily from Apple's built from the ground up iOS.


    Geez, I never even mentioned Android. Overzealous fanboy? I'm talking about the company Apple in general. Hell, on the subject of phones, yeah Apple made a good leap with the first iPhone. Before the iPhone 4, I always wanted one of the new iPhones (that came out every other month). But there are better alternatives out now and Apple is still stuck in its little game of trying to kill competition with patents and lawsuits, rather than actually INNOVATE and BEAT the competition.
    Btw, Android didn't "borrow heavily" from iOS. Android is built from the ground up on Linux.
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