As you may be aware, Apple held it’s big iPhone 5, er 4S, event in Cupertino today, and while the iCinco failed to make an appearance and the company’s stock plunged 5 percent as a result, it was still a good day for the Apple faithful. iOS 5 is coming on October 12th, and though some who’ve been waiting to upgrade were disappointed by the striking physical similarity between the iPhone 4 and the new iPhone 4S, Sprint users are now welcome, and the 4S is notably speedier.
And perhaps most exciting (depending on who you ask) is that Siri, the personal assistant app that uses natural language processing to answer questions, make recommendations, and eventually aims to replace your butler, will now be native on all iPhone 4Ses.
Sure, some have already been using Siri on the iPad, Apple probably should have made this available for the iPhone 4 as well, and we’re all pretty surprised that Apple has kept the name Siri, after buying the company that makes its eponymous app back in April of last year, but now the app is native, always with you, and it works. Which is something, right? Forget the fact that she sounds like the female version of HAL 9000 …
What’s so cool, as Apple said in their description of Siri, is that it’s “proactive, so it will question you until it finds what you’re looking for”. This should hopefully mean that you won’t have to shout your question 10 times before you divorce Siri and throw her in the toilet — Siri uses context and logic like some kind of sweet, sweet robot from the future. She’s a humble and intelligent assistant, and works towards proving the kind of deep voice integration that will be part of Apple iOS 5 (and mobile technology going forward).
However, what’s even more mind blowing is that Apple predicted this technology more than a quarter century ago. The following video has been making the rounds over the last 24 hours (and thanks to Sociable for first pointing it out), which you really have to see.
Apple’s “what if” exposition, which contains some late-’80s awesomeness, describes something called the “Knowledge Navigator” — a suped-up, tuxedo-ed personal assistant that users manipulate by way of voice and touch. According to the video, the personal assistant connects with all the major networks, features two-way videoconferencing, and helps you keep appointments, find, converge, and share documents — the works. It’s quite a feat considering the Apple IIGS had just been released the previous year.
Basically, The Knowledge Navigator predicts touch technology, the iPad, iPhone, Skype, FaceTime — and Siri. All in one talking, well-dressed device. The savvy technologists among us may be well aware of the progenitors and technological precursors to these devices and services, but here we have very real confirmation that Siri (and Apple products as a whole) have been in gestation in the minds of Apple’s wizards since (at least) 1987.
And the best part? If I’m not mistaken, this “futuristic” video is set in the year of 2011 — there’s a mention of an article written in 2006 that was supposedly created five years in the past. Now, even for those cynics and naysayers among us, that’s pretty fantastic. Hold on to the top of your head. I guess Apple didn’t steal the idea for iOS from Android after all.
Without further ado, below you can find the 1987 introduction to Knowledge Navigator and 2011’s introduction to Siri: