Once Siri can deal with inbound communications, she will make the leap from speech-to-text tool to true digital aide.
Apple touts Siri as an intelligent personal assistant but her capabilities are limited. Siri can search the web, send dictated messages, and interact with the calendar but her scope of abilities is limited to responding to user queries and commands. Real world personal assistants fill another key role: Gatekeeper.
As gatekeeper, Siri could interact with inbound communications from friends and colleagues, filtering and responding based on context. Siri will be able to act as your personal representative. Here are a few examples:
Siri can answer and redirect your incoming phone calls based on context. If you’re asleep, Siri can ask the caller if it’s an emergency. If it is, she can let the call through; if not, she can send it to voicemail.
There can be different response protocols for any occasion. You can have one setting for when you’re “in the zone” and only want important or relevant incoming communications. Siri can also inform a caller when you’ll next be free to respond.
A similar example could be for when you receive a text while driving. If Siri knows that you’re behind the wheel, she can auto-reply to inform the texter that they shouldn’t expect an immediate response.
Interactive Status Update
Siri should also be able to handle inbound requests for information about your activity. A coworker could ask if you’re in town or on a business trip. A friend could ask what time zone you’re in or if you’re free for dinner. People should be able to coordinate directly with your Siri to schedule a meeting with you.
As personal digital assistants become more prevalent, there will be opportunity for customization. You will be able to choose among different voices and even personalities. Your assistant will react differently to incoming callers depending on your relationships with those people.
As the technology continues to develop, we’ll get to a point where we will have communication amongst our personal assistants. For example, my Siri and your Siri might interact to find the best time for us to meet. All we will need to do is provide the final okay.
Because these functions require deep integration with our calendars and contact lists, I think that Apple is the only party capable of reaching this vision on iOS. Third party developers may be capable of pulling this off on Android.
The next wave of personal assistant technologies is going to be very cool; what other use cases do you want to see?