Friday, 28 October 2011

Apple expected to release Siri-powered television by 2013

Television is broken. I know it. You know it. Steve Jobs knew it.
I have a pretty state-of-the-art 2011 Sony LED TV, complete with Hulu Plus, Netflix and YouTube apps. Yet it still usually takes me about a dozen clicks on a button-rich remote to get to what I want to watch. By the time you actually load up the latest Daily Show, your dinner is getting cold and your drink is getting warm.

Wouldn’t it be so much better if you could simply tell your TV what you wanted to see, when to pause or when to turn the volume down? The remote could stay hidden down the back of the couch for good. You could ask for a specific show or YouTube clip, or just be wonderfully lazy and say something like “play me a new sitcom.”

Near the end of the mammoth Steve Jobs biography, there’s a tantalizing mention of the former Apple CEO working on the problem of the TV interface toward the end of his days. “I’ve finally cracked it!” Jobs said, but we never find out what “it” is. Now, if a New York Times report is to be believed, “it” is voice-activated TV — usingSiri, the cutting-edge, intelligent agent baked into the iPhone 4S.
The Times‘ Nick Bilton has spent a year snooping around the story that Apple is working on launching its own TV set — the screen itself, rather than just the Apple TV box. His first conclusion: the Apple TV set is coming, it’s just a question of when (Bilton’s best guess: early 2013). His second conclusion: Siri is going to be the main interface.
Whether that means you’ll have to own an iOS device in order to control the TV, or whether the TV will have an ambient microphone good enough to pick up voice commands, still remains to be seen. We’d guess the latter. Apple does like to give you reasons to buy more Apple products, but there are no instances in which you’re forced into buying one to manipulate another. The company will want to avoid being ridiculed for requiring a $200-plus remote.
Besides, anyone who’s had a FaceTime chat on an iPad 2 knows how far Apple microphone technology has come. It picks up sound with astonishing clarity, good enough that it will likely work from across your TV room. But then how would you pull up the Siri interface on the screen in the first place? By calling her name, perhaps? Or will Apple provide a remote after all, with a single button that calls up Siri?
Both sound like elegant Jobsian solutions. But if it’s all the same to Apple, we’d rather not have another gadget that can get lost down the back of the couch, even if it is a clicker with one button.

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