Siri should be a bit more proactive

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: September 5, 2013

Earlier this year, when Apple unveiled iOS 7 and talked about all the improvements they have both under the hood and across the aesthetic sheen, they touched on the way that Siri was evolving. And, while Apple did that, there probably wasn't a person out there not comparing the "new" Siri to the old version, and for good reason. That's how it works. How does the new compare to the old? Is it worth "upgrading?" Apple had to answer those questions during WWDC, and the varying degrees of success or failure completely depend on the individual.

While Apple was focused on Siri, though, I had to look at the alternatives that are out there, too. I couldn't help it. Despite the fact that I knew Siri wasn't going to offer up the same features and in-depth integration with my mobile life as Google Now, I still had to compare and contrast. Is Siri worth it now, in iOS 7, more so than it has been in previous versions? Have the improvements brought to Siri really made it worthwhile, especially compared to options like Google Now, or even S Voice?

Admittedly, all of those things offer up different features and usages. Moreover, they just behave differently, even if some of them are similar at face value. You may interact with them in the same way, more or less, but the end result can be strikingly different per experience. What you see in Samsung's S Voice may different than Google Now, and the experience you receive from a query in Google Now may (or will) be different from Siri.

They may all be different in key, and important areas, the biggest and most important area is where they all share a distinct similarity:

They're designed to make your life easier.

Whether we're calling them personal assistants or something else, they're all meant to help you. Help you set reminders, schedule important events, find a location, a movie time, or whatever else. They all do it in different ways, for better or worse. As always, it's up to us to determine which one is the best, and which one is the best for you.

I've asked the question, "Can Siri ever compete with Google Now," and in my personal opinion I think Google just has more to work with. They get into your emails, and calendar, and schedule and everything else to create Google Now. It knows what you want, before you want it -- sometimes. Other times it's just ready when you are, and gives you information you need when it thinks you need it.

Siri, on the other hand, is a digital assistant waiting for you to tell it what to do. Siri is ready whenever you need it to be, to set reminders, and play songs, and find movie theaters. You have to request the information, though. Siri can't dig into your search results and suggest what movie you want to see, by showing you screening times.

Siri can't compete with Google Now, not directly. As far as I'm concerned, they're not even able to compete. But that could change if Siri were a bit more proactive. I talked about this a little bit awhile back, when I joked that Siri "needed a raise." She does need more features that are similar to Google Now, yes, and I think one of those is a little bit of . . . Forward thinking, I guess.

Just thinking out loud here, but I wouldn't mind it if Siri were able to talk to me without me activating it. Situational awareness, plus a bit of voice feedback. If we could use sensors like we see in the Moto X, so that the iPhone 5S for instance knows we're in a car, and Siri could tell me how many minutes it will take for me to get to an appointment. By telling me, I don't have to look at my phone, and that helps.

It would be something you'd have to be able to turn off and on, obviously. It couldn't be a standard feature that's always on and Siri is always yelling at you or something. But to be able to just be notified by a voice, instead of a ringing sound or something, would be a pretty neat idea, I think. What do you think? Should Siri be able to talk to you without you activating it? Let me know what you think.