Apple’s Siri: Working on Wheels
Rajesh is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), which is better known for its iPads and iPhones, is trying its hands on the auto industry. The company which rolls out new technology every other day has come up with the ‘eyes free’ Siri. Early this week at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the iPhone maker announced this piece of innovation which is voice enabled, allowing drivers to talk by tapping the button mounted on the steering wheel.
Apple’s founder Steve Jobs had big plans for revolutionizing the auto industry and this seems to be one of the major steps towards his iCar dream.
Using smartphones for direction in car navigation is nothing new as Google maps are getting more and more popular among drivers. Apple’s Siri, which can talk back, is much more. The Siri button on being tapped can be used to do a number of jobs. The driver can ask Siri to call people, hear and compose text, play music, find places and get direction, read out notifications, check calendar information, set reminders and a lot more. This is all done hands free and eyes free, with little chances of getting distracted. All you need is to activate Siri by pushing the button on the steering wheel.
Already there are nine automakers that are willing to integrate this feature within the next twelve months. The nine carmakers are Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors (NYSE: GM), Chrysler, Honda Motors, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Toyota Motors (NYSE: TM). Automakers will build-in the Siri button either on the steering wheel or the dashboard.
But what’s odd?
What’s striking is the absence of the Blue Oval and Fiat, both of which use Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) voice activated technology. The absence of Ford (NYSE: F) is a little surprising, especially as the carmaker is ever eager about incorporating the latest technology, so that it can widen margins by charging a premium for its models. Seems like Microsoft, which has a joint venture with Ford, has restricted the company to consider or explore other opportunities and keep others at arm’s length.
How serious are automakers about Siri?
Several automakers have given their commitment in adding the eyes free Siri to their cars within twelve months. However, only a few of them could confirm that they are actually working to integrate the technology and deliver it within the scheduled timeframe.
Some automakers are clear about their roadmap, while others like Chrysler prefer to keep mum on their ‘future product plans’. Audi does not have a concrete plan and is currently working with Apple to test the Siri in an experiment to check how it works.
GM is pretty sure to add the Siri and is working to integrate it initially its entry level cars such as the Chevy Spark and Chevrolet Sonic. The automaker may come out with it even faster than the slated timeframe. BMW has scheduled to make the Siri available by mid next year. Jaguar and Land Rover spokesperson said that they are coordinating with Apple and would incorporate the Siri feature in their upcoming models. Toyota, at the moment has no applications planned, but is exploring the possibility of setting up Siri in Toyota, Lexus or Scion vehicles.
The takeaway – think different
Everybody wants to stay connected. And resisting the iPhones and the Androids isn’t easy even while driving. The eyes free Siri application is on the way to become extremely popular with drivers, who won’t have to give up the pleasure of staying connected with their iPhones and Androids for safety driving. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see what strategy Microsoft will apply to combat Apple’s latest technology. Microsoft needs to ‘think different’ too.
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