Aussies first inside Siri's head
A Sydney app developer has become the first in the world to figure out how to get Siri to work outside of Apple's own apps.
Separately, Google's mobile boss has dimissed Siri at a conference, arguing he does not believe phones should be our personal assistants. This contradicts previous statements by Google engineers.
The Siri voice recognition/artifical intelligence technology, introduced with the iPhone 4S, has been tipped torevolutionise the way we interact with our portable devices, just like the iPhone did when it was first introduced. But so far Siri only works with Apple's own built-in apps, and Apple has yet to release a roadmap for opening it up to third-party developers.
Remember The Milk, a task manager app for the iPhone, iPad and Android platforms, is a natural fit for Siri. It is used to create tasks, appointments and reminders, among other features, and adding such information to the phone is much more efficient when done using voice rather than manual touchscreen input.
''It's just a really great way to do it - you're waiting around and you just remember something and you talk to your phone and it remembers it,'' said co-founder Omar Kilani.
''The difficulty was just trying to figure out what exactly was required on our end to do it, and how to configure the system so Siri will let you add directly into that list. It's not obvious stuff.''
Kilani said his team didn't have to hack or jailbreak the phone, and instead figured out how to interact with Siri by capturing network traffic. ''Basically it's just trying to figure out how it was working with the iCloud stuff and then doing it on our end,'' he said.
He said he had yet to receive a complaint from Apple but he hoped the company wouldn't mind him taking advantage of Siri before it was ready. Apple Australia declined to comment.
''I think everyone wants it to open up [to third-party developers] but I think the issue is it's actually a really hard problem to solve ... what if you have two apps that do the same thing and they want to register for the same action word? How does that work?,'' said Kilani.
''I think they probably will at some stage but they have to figure out a way for third parties to actually be able to do it in an Apple-like way.''
Strangely, despite Google's early development of voice recognition software for Android, its senior vice president of mobile, Andy Rubin, thinks it is a little weird for people to be talking to their phone.
''I don't believe your phone should be an assistant ... you shouldn't be communicating with the phone,'' he said, adding ''we'll see how pervasive it gets''.
Kilani started Remember The Milk with Emily Boyd in 2004 and they launched their first app in 2005. Kilani said the pair are now married after developing a romance while running the company.