It’s common knowledge now that Mountain Lion, Apple’s upcoming major software release for OS X, will be bringing some iOS love to the desktop. Among the things OS 10.8 will be bestowing upon the Mac-using population are mobile favorites like Reminders, Notes, Notification Center and iMessaging. But the one differentiating feature from the iPhone 4S isn’t in the bunch, and it’s the one thing that could truly set OS X apart — Siri.
Macworld touched on the concept of bringing Siri to OS X, and I think it’s a brilliant idea. Since Apple introduced it to the iPhone 4S via iOS 5, some users have really grown to rely on her. (Yes, Siri’s a chick, at least in my mind’s eye.) Sure, some still consider her a novelty, but for others, being able to set appointments, schedule reminders, dictate notes or send messages by voice has liberated them from the drudgery of entering data with their fingertips. So if it could do that for smartphone owners, why not let Mac users in on the action?
Despite Siri not having been adapted to work across all iOS devices yet, a desktop version would be a uniquely intriguing proposition. And it might not even be that hard to implement. Given the speech features OS X already has, much of the development for this is already there.
Imagine it: We could just map a dedicated key or hit a key combo to engage Siri, then just talk at our desktops to manage applications like iTunes and Safari, navigate around websites or stop/start/rewind songs, or even look up stuff on Google or via Wolfram Alpha. That alone would be handy, but let’s up the ante a little, shall we? Could our girl Siri also handle application switching/quitting, conduct systemwide searches and, thanks to the magic of FaceTime, Messages and Google Talk, even place our desktop-enabled voice or vid calls for us? Now that’s what I’m talking about.
The other huge value proposition is speech transcription. I’m sure integrated transcription might not thrill third parties like MacSpeech Dictate and Dragon, but for end users, it could truly change the way we use our computers. And if Apple opened it up so others could integrate with Siri, the possibilities would really be endless.
It would be like bringing us closer to the future that Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s spoken-interface showed us. Maybe it’s not quite the same as, “Computer, open hailing frequencies to the Borg ship!” but it would be fairly close.
What do you think of the concept of native voice-command for desktops? Could it reinvent the notion of modern-day computing, or would it just be a gimmicky feature?