A Look at the History of Siri and How it Almost Became an Android Exclusive for Verizon

A few of the details on the the history of Siri, including Steve Jobs' move to contact the company just three weeks after the independent app's launch, have surfaced over the last several years, but The Huffington Post has now published an extensive history of the technology and company that reveals a few other interesting details.

The report outlines how Siri grew out of a Department of Defense project to integrate with 42 different web services to perform its virtual assistant services, many of which were discontinued when Apple scaled back the platform for inclusion in iOS. Apple has been relatively slow to build Siri's feature set back up, but has been making progress on the effort.

siri icon on linen
Perhaps most interestingly, the report reveals that Siri was very nearly an Android exclusive for Verizon, but the deal was obviously broken when Steve Jobs and Apple moved quickly to acquire Siri.

In the fall of 2009, several months before Apple approached Siri, Verizon had signed a deal with the startup to make Siri a default app on all Android phones set to launch in the new year. When Apple swooped in to buy Siri, it insisted on making the assistant exclusive to Apple devices, and nixed the Verizon deal. In the process, it narrowly avoided seeing Siri become a selling point for smartphones powered by its biggest rival, Google. (Somewhere in the vaults of the wireless giant, there are unreleased commercials touting Siri as an Android add-on.)

The report goes on to discuss some of the challenges faced by Siri at Apple, including difficulties in negotiating partnerships with content providers, Apple's emphasis on broadening access to other countries and languages over pushing the technology forward for a smaller subset of users, and corporate politics that have resulted in the loss of some of Siri's biggest advocates at Apple.

Siri is also facing strong competition from the Android platform of which it was almost a part. Google has moved quickly to develop its own virtual assistant capabilities in the form of Google Now, and many are looking for Apple to step up the pace of improvement with Siri in order to reestablish it in users' minds as a key advantage for Apple as it was touted at its 2011 launch on the iPhone 4S.

Top Rated Comments

AustinIllini Avatar
108 months ago
Siri is useless, in our house all I ever hear people using it for is "X minute timer" when cooking.

We are all tech savvy people, 4 iPhone 4's in the house and we hardly use it.

None of your have siri unless you have 4 iPhone 4S's
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Shasterball Avatar
108 months ago
Siri is still crippled and barely useful - especially in loud situations. It's been relegated in my experience to setting up reminders and asking about sports scores...
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KnightWRX Avatar
108 months ago
I think some of the reasons that Google Now is good vs Siri is because it actively "guesses" what you need, while Siri is something you need to constantly ask things of. Google Now alerts you with things before you even think of asking them.

However, one of the big hurdle Siri faces is its reliance on always-on connectivity. Without a data connection, Siri can't even perform offline functions on your phone (like setting reminders, opening apps, playing music that's stored in your library) which also hurts perception of its use when you're limited for connectivity (low signal areas or plain not having data because being abroad). I don't know how Google Now fares in this capacity, not having really used it.

Anyway, I've disabled Siri, much less time consuming to just touch my way to things than ask it, wait for it to analyse what I want, ask for a confirmation, wait for it to analyse my confirmation.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ds2000 Avatar
108 months ago
Siri is useless, in our house all I ever hear people using it for is "X minute timer" when cooking and the occasional whats the sport score. It is quite handy at opening apps..... unless its noisy.

We are all tech savvy people, 4 iPhone 4's in the house and we hardly use it.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TimUSCA Avatar
108 months ago
Siri is still crippled and barely useful - especially in loud situations. It's been relegated in my experience to setting up reminders and asking about sports scores...
I use it all the time. Mostly for dictating text messages or getting directions while I drive, but sometimes for reminders, sports scores, and quick notes. I rarely have to repeat myself, so I don't know where people's issues are coming from. I'm not saying the issues aren't there... they just aren't for me.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JaySoul Avatar
108 months ago
Useless until it can successfully execute "Siri, make me a sandwich."
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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