Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why Siri may not come to the iPad

Credit: OSX Daily
Apple has kept the voice-controlled interactive personal assistant iOS feature, Siri, an iPhone 4S-only exclusive. Obviously they want people to see it as a unique selling point for the relatively minor upgrade for the iPhone product line.

Many may predict that Apple will launch the next generation iPad (which is expected soon) touting Siri. But I have a reason why they may choose not to do so.
Apple makes products that "just work". They are always extremely user-friendly and are targeted towards a large user base. Apple's mobile products that run iOS are generally usable by geeks to businesspersons to your grandfather. Their products are also known for their uniformity and their strong "ecosystem" features.

Siri is a cloud-based service. A device with Siri will need a data connection for Siri to work at all, since the voice-processing stuff is done on Apple's servers. Having Siri on the iPhone makes sense. An iPhone-user will, in most cases, have a persistent Internet connection on their phone. Hence, when they use Siri, she will always respond and work.

Apple announced the release of the next version of their desktop operating system, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Siri is (surprisingly?) not among the ten major new features in OS X. Why? Many people said that it would be impractical and unnecessary to talk to a laptop or desktop computer which has a mouse/touchpad and keyboard interface already. But some people, such as Christina Bonnington from WIRED say that one of the main reasons Apple did not include Siri in OS X is that it needs location awareness and an always-on data connection. These are not always available to a desktop and (even more) to a laptop user.

Now, there is a Wi-Fi only iPad and a Wi-Fi+3G iPad. Users of the latter variant may be able to use Siri with no problem. If they have a data connection for their iPad, they have ubiquitous Internet and a GPS receiver, solving both the basic problems with Siri. But the former variant does not always have an Internet connection and it is also missing (at least in the first two generations) a GPS receiver.

This is why Apple may not choose to include Siri in the next iPad. They may make it a 3G variant-only feature, but this is highly unlikely since it goes against their style.