Apple Looking to Hire Writers to Enhance Siri's Witty Personality

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MIT Technology Review has dug up a job ad posted by Apple on LinkedIn appealing to writers to help make Siri more conversational.

“[S]omeone who combines a love for language, wordplay, and conversation with demonstrated experience in bringing creative content to life within an intense technical environment.”

The ad notes that writers who apply will also need "experience in writing character-driven dialog", a good vocabulary and, ideally, knowledge of more than one language. The goal of the hirings would be to "evolve and enrich Siri."

Siri has been known for her wit and personality, with Apple attempting to allow Siri to build emotional ties with users.

Apple focused on keeping Siri's personality "friendly and humble -- but also with an edge". According to their source, they were thinking "How would we want a person to respond?" while developing the software.

After scaling back Siri's original feature set for its initial launch through Apple, the company has been working to expand compatibility to new devices such as the iPad as well as new languages. Apple has also improved Siri in iOS 6 with new movie, sports and restaurant features, and is set to introduce movie ticket purchases through Fandango with the upcoming iOS 6.1.

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99 months ago
I don't understand the thinking of people who say things like this:

Apple should fix the Wifi connection problem before worrying about the scuffing issue!

Or,

My government should stop giving money to poor people in x country because we have people here who are poor!

Or,

Scientists should sort out the ozone layer instead of worrying about the Higgs Boson!

Do people think that companies, governments and various fields of specialists are only capable of working on one problem at a time? Does the fact that something is being done make some other thing being done less likely?

Apple IS working on improving the speed/reliability/functionality of basically everything all the time. But a team of people can only be so large before the improvement in man-power is outweighed by the transaction costs - too many cooks are said to have a deleterious effect on the quality of broth. And do we suppose that the same people who are working on improving Siri's "personality" would be any use if re-deployed to the maps team? Or if asked to assist in beefing up Apple's data-centres? Really?!

Yes - Apple needs to make Siri faster. There is nothing in this story which suggests that they are not. All we can see here is that they also have people working on other things... shocking!

Companies can do more than one thing at once. Governments can support international development while working on domestic poverty and groups of experts can and must support various research and development projects simultaneously or they'll never get anywhere!

Of course, I'm wasting my time.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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99 months ago

Why not spend time and money on innovation instead of gimmicks? Siri itself isn't a gimmick, but trying to expand its 'witty' personality is. Market analysts (and I don't mean DigiTimes...) are saying almost daily that Apple is starting to lack in innovation and has fallen into an iterative rut of just applying minor tweaks to each of their product lines.

It may be a reach, but I kind of compare it to the story of the USPTO wanting to close its doors in the 19th century because everything had already been invented. Apple cannot rest on the laurels of its current product lines and must continue inventing and innovating to stay relevant.

Why?

Compared to everyone else in the consumer electronics space Apple is THE innovator. No one, not a single company, has changed the landscape of consumer technology one tenth as much as Apple has, even if you only count the last decade, but you don't hear people saying that Samsung has to invent and innovate to stay relevant or that Nokia needs a big new paradigm shifting product to survive - they do but no one says it. Even if we accept that, since the iPad, Apple has not really pushed out a big, game changing product, who exactly has? Samsung with their Phablet? Google's G+? If Apple has been slow for the last three years, then by that standards nobody has innovated at all since about 2002! Surface? It's like an iPad. Chromebooks? Basic thin client devices - been around for years.

Right now Apple has three big lines. iPhone, iPad and MacBook (Pro/Air) - two of which have redefined entire technology categories in a little over five years. All three are growing rapidly, especially the iPhone and iPad which are seeing YoY growth of 35-50%. Apple has just launched the iPad mini which is likely to outsell the original iPad and add millions of units per quarter to Apple's sell-through. If Apple did nothing but keep improving these three lines for the next five years they would remain the most profitable company in technology without a sniff of doubt. They don't NEED to do anything to stay relevant other than keep pushing these products harder. Yes, sooner or later a new product will be needed but that statement is true for ANYONE in ANY INDUSTRY.

They will do other things, of course. It's probable that they'll be moving into a new product category within the next 18 months. It's also likely that they will expand the iPhone line in some way and new services will be launched to bolster their ecosystem. But even if they didn't they would stay relevant for years to come. Apple has the world's most popular smartphone and the world's most popular tablet range. Apple has the world's largest and most popular App Store and is dominant in online music distribution. Apple has a big chunk of video too, not to mention being the world's leading mobile games platform. Apple currently sits atop the pile in no less than five product/service categories in terms of profit, scope, size and influence.

EDIT - just wanted to add that spending time on presentation is not gimmicky in the slightest and that's what Siri's "personality" is - presentation. You don't, I assume, consider spending time on the look and feel of a product a waste, do you? How Siri responds, the jokes and quips that make him/her feel more like a real person, are a part of the product and one of the reasons that Siri is the only voice assistant that anyone who doesn't use one can name. If making the product more fun to use encourages people to have a go then the time spent on it is in no way a waste.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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99 months ago
Nor normally so cynical with respect to Apple but perhaps they could hire some backend engineers to make Siri respond faster? Google Voice takes less than a second most of the time. Siri takes 2-3 seconds just to recognise your voice.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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99 months ago
Why is Apple so intent on turning Siri into a big joke? Make it more functional and faster and stop wasting time on this garbage.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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99 months ago
I'd happily go work for them, and make a whole new language available for iPhone usrs... Yorkshire accents! Siri hardly understands me as it, I have to put on a posh accent...

"Ey up Siri, wot's on't box t'nite?"
"Ey up cock, al ava look fo y'"

"Siri, tha cud murder a cuppa, wez' nearest cafe?"
"Daant' road, al show y' way naa t'old boy" *opens maps and gives directions*

:D
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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99 months ago



[Edit: I feel I need to qualify this response. My problem is that it feels like it's been a while since Apple wowed us with a bit of true innovation. Yes, they certainly lead the industry in innovation, but it just seems like with every new report on Apple's current goings-on, that we've started to see stagnation. Perhaps it's a problem with the consumers and fans expecting too much from a company. And perhaps it's a problem with a company having conditioned a marketplace to expect such great things on such a rapid cycle. Maybe I and the rest of the world just need to step back and stop to smell the roses...]


I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "it just seems like with every new report on Apple's current goings-on, that we've started to see stagnation."

What you're really seeing here is a popular meme doing the rounds. No quantitative stuff. No hard data. Just a lot of bloggers and chattering types saying the same things - opinions based on opinions based on opinions.

Big new products are rare. Prior to the modern smartphone and tablet revolution the personal computer space had been dominated for years by desktop and laptop PCs. The first desktop was built forty years ago! Granted the more recognizable home computer would come in the 80s but the basic paradigm of a screen with a keyboard attached is now as old as the hills. Laptops in the form we would currently recognize are from the late 80s/early 90s! If we allow that netbooks are basically a minor blip and sub-notebooks in general never really changed the world, prior to the modern smartphone and tablet the basic paradigms of personal computing had been solidly in place with almost no major shifts (in terms of the devices - I'm not saying the rise of the internet wasn't a big deal) for the better part of 30 years!

Think about that for a moment - 30 years separates the laptop from the modern tablet and the modern tablet is now about three years old. One tenth of the time that elapsed between the birth of the laptop and the launch of the iPad has since passed... one tenth! And we're already asking for a major new personal computing shift-around!?

Right now the big advances are coming in apps and services and Apple's part in that is as a platform more than anything else - the App Store, the iPad and iPhone - these are keystones in allowing partners to innovate. Apple is playing a different role but don't imagine they aren't in the game.

We're seeing a rise in wearable electronics but most of those are far too niche right now for Apple. Apple may one day make a smartwatch - in fact I would put money on something in that space being a major new product from Apple pretty soon - and they're likely to have a head mounted/HUD type product under development (we're still a LONG way from that breaking into the mainstream though and Apple doesn't tend to play in niche areas these days), but until a big new technological breakthrough (bendable screens are a part of this but it's battery tech that's holding back new form-factors in portable tech) it's not likely we'll see a shift like that between laptop and tablet for a little while.

So what might we see?

I said that a smartwatch type of devices is a good bet. This technology is still maturing and Apple will wait until it can do something that radically improves on the current smartwatch experience. I think maybe within the next two years we'll see an Apple branded wearable device of some sort.

Apple is, for a large part, a media company now and the living room is where most media is still consumed. I'm not convinced that Apple will launch a TV - I just don't see why they would when a small, cheap set-top box can do the job when plugged in to a standard HD TV, but a bigger move into the living room is almost certainly on the cards. This is hard. Google has tried and failed spectacularly. TiVO is dying. Of all the big players MS is, perhaps, the best placed in this fight with the XBOX in hundreds of millions of living rooms. But after them Apple has a great chance here because the Apple TV is in millions of homes despite being a fairly basic package - with Apple's dominant iTunes Store and huge base of iPad users, a big push into the living room is by no means beyond them.

Beyond that, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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