# The Orchard of Innovation: How APPLE Planted the Seeds of Voice Technology with Siri

Of all the fruit in the orchard, its best had always been apples, and they had never gone out of season. When Apple released Siri, its voice-controlled assistant and the most publicly lauded thing on the launch of the iPhone 4S in 2011, the company was planting a fruit tree whose fruit it hoped would be the apple of the age of assistance. It hoped people could speak to their computers the way they spoke to each other.

## A Voice from the Future: APPLE's Vision for Siri

When you ask your phone for tomato soup, it delivers. When you ask your phone what the point of all this is, it replies not only with profundities, but also with existential wrinkles and shadows in its voice. As Apple’s ads – featuring a slew of celebrities such as Zooey Deschanel and John Malkovich – made clear to millions of viewers, Siri wasn’t just a feature. She was a friendly voice that would always be there to remind you of appointments, tell you what the weather was like, reschedule meetings and events – all without making you tap on any apps or navigate through menus. Convenience was the message that Apple pushed for Siri.

## APPLE's Bold Claim: Siri as the Best Feature of the iPhone 4S

Within minutes of making this declaration at the iPhone 4S launch event, Phil Schiller, Apple’s vice president of worldwide product marketing, was forced to do damage control. ‘It’s more than just a gimmick,’ he reassured the crowd, ‘it’s really great.’ Yet, as was very soon apparent, the fantasy of Siri in the ads did not perfectly align with the experience of Siri in the real world.

### Siri's Growing Pains: Matching Reality with Expectations

And there was an initial period of enthusiasm during which many users accepted all the grand claims made for Siri in the early ads, despite signs that Siri was a bit, well, less than she had seemed. That ad seemed to make a confident promise that Siri would handle every last detail of your digital life with consummate fluency. But lots of users hit limits right away in Siri’s comprehension and execution, and so it was not long before there was commentary about the gap between what Apple was saying in their ads and what users experienced.

### The Evolution of a Companion: How Siri Adapted Over Time

Cognizant of this hurdle, Apple didn’t give up. Rather, Apple doubled down on making Siri better by expanding its knowledge and linguistic abilities. Fast forward five years, and Siri has received hundreds of updates, blowing holes in the distance between the original promise, and private experience. Siri is now better than ever, more present, stealthier, and a better assistant.

## Siri's Impact on Voice Technology and Beyond

With Siri, Apple raised the bar. Competitors responded to Apple’s venture by creating their own voice assistants, reinvigorating the field of voice-driven computing. Siri’s effect doesn’t stop with the technology itself, however. It’s altered the way we think about computer-human interaction, orchestrating a shift towards a future where the tools of our subjection understand and respond to us like we – or arguably, some of us – understand and respond to one another.

## APPLE's Legacy of Innovation: A Look to the Future

It’s hardly a sign of Apple losing its way that a few years after Siri’s debut, we’ve only just begun to glimpse the company’s long-term vision for how voice control could define the future of its platforms: from using your voice to control appliances in your smart home to monitoring your health. Apple’s early investment in Siri has primed the market for a future with both more intuitive and more ubiquitous technology.

## Understanding APPLE: The Company Behind Siri

Fundamentally, Apple is a force that strives to merge art and technology into a coherent whole and create functional products that are not only intuitive to use but also beautiful. Siri embodies this spirit, where Apple’s technical mastery of technology is corralled to provide a better understanding of what human beings need. Apple’s quest to push the limits of technology through innovation is a continuing and arduous path. We would all be the greater for it.

Summing up our discussion of Siri’s inception and evolution, Apple’s ambitious, multi-year project was not just about launching a voice assistant. It was about establishing the future in which talking to a machine would be as natural as talking to another human being. Through good times and bad, Siri evolved and it got better, and Apple got the recognition it deserved thanks to its resilience and determination. In the years to come, one thing can be said with a great certainty: Apple will never lag technological development – thanks to Siri, the company is moving full steam ahead into a voice-activated future.

Jun 09, 2024
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