When you think about Siri, you think about Apple. The virtual assistant has become ubiquitous with the Cupertino-based company ever since it was first revealed alongside the iPhone 4S, but if Verizon had a choice it would've never been on the iPhone at all. In fact, before Apple bought Siri, the phone carrier was already knee-deep in plans to bring the app to its Android devices.
According to a new feature on the Huffington Post, Verizon was already filming commercials for Siri on Android when Apple purchased the company right out from under its nose. The Siri app had only been available on the iPhone App Store for three weeks when Steve Jobs called its creators, and they spent three hours on the phone detailing a future of digital assistants that would be able to actually converse with and do things for humans.
That's probably the most surprising detail in the feature. Siri wasn't intended to simply understand speech and search for suggestions online; it was supposed to be able to book appointments, make restaurant reservations, order things online. It was even supposed to have the ability to call a taxi when you've had one too many drinks.
When Apple purchased the developer and integrated Siri into the iPhone, though, a lot of these goals fell by the wayside. A large part of the reason why is that Apple needed to endow Siri with the ability to understand multiple languages, not just English. Acquiring the necessary licenses to sync up Siri with other Web sites also proved trickier than anticipated. While Siri's abilities have steadily expanded, it's still a ways off from being what its creators intended. What's more, only one of the three co-creators still works at Apple, while the man in charge of integrating the assistant into the company's operating system has gone as well.
"The Siri team saw the future, defined the future and built the first working version of the future," said Gary Morgenthaler, a member of one of the first two venture capital firms to invest in Siri. "So it's disappointing to those of us that were part of the original team to see how slowly that's progressed out of the acquired company into the marketplace."
Despite the fact that Siri doesn't quite live up to its original goals, the program still figures to be an important part of Apple's future. Where it eventually goes, though, we'll just have to wait and see.