Being first is usually always a good thing, especially if you manage to create something that everyone either wants to have, or wants to "copy." Apple isn't the only company out there that's created something that other companies have wanted to emulate, especially not in recent years, but that doesn't mean Apple isn't part of the conversation one way or another.
It isn't even necessarily about being first. It's just about creating something that seems to catch quite a bit of attention after its unveiling, and through customers that talk about the new feature or phone through social media outlets. Or when the companies get a way to test the new things on their own. Some features or devices just have a way of catching more attention than others, and when that happens we can be sure to see similarities from other manufacturers as they try to catch the same momentum.
This isn't a bad thing, not at face value. It can be a good thing as long as the company, or companies, create something new and exciting from that similar landmark. So, that one new feature is all the rage these days? That's great. Build it, but make it better than what came before. That's the only requirement.
Thankfully, that happens more often than not.
Apple started the digital assistant movement with Siri. Up until that point, the idea was only a pipe dream in a lot of ways. As has happened in the past, Apple made the possibility popular, and we're still seeing the results of that apparently popularity. Google was the first with a major competitor to Siri, with Google Now, and the search giant continues to make Google Now one of the best features out there.
The newest entry into the digital personal assistant category may be the toughest one to date, though. Microsoft, during their BUILD conference yesterday, officially unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 and along with it Cortana, their Siri/Google Now-like digital personal assistant feature. (Halo fans, it is Jen Taylor's voice for the feature, so that's awesome all by itself.) The reason this isn't just a "Siri-like" feature, is because it shares plenty of similarities between Google Now, too. Microsoft was smart in their development of Cortana, because they didn't just go after one popular digital assistant -- they went after all of them. This makes Cortana look strong, right out of the gate, and it can only get better from here.
Windows Phone 8.1 may have caught up with the other mobile platforms now, but in a lot of ways Cortana has surpassed its digital counterparts, and that's something that Apple (and Google) should be looking really hard at. As I've suggested in the past, it might be hard for Apple to really dig into Siri and boast the same features that Google Now and Cortana have, simply because they don't have a proprietary search engine/other features that can bolster the feature's capabilities. This is one of the reasons why Google Now and Cortana are so powerful: Google and Bing.
I don't think that means it's impossible, though. After all, iOS's 'Today' tab in Notification Center is usually far more stable for me than Google Now's notifications in the Notification Shade for Android, so at least there's a bedrock that Apple can use to build upon.
How do you feel about Apple's Siri? Is it a feature that you still use, or has it fallen by the wayside for you? In its place, do you use Google Now for iOS? Do you think Siri needs improvements to catch up to Google Now and Cortana, or is it fine the way it is now? Let me know!