When Apple introduced Siri as a feature on the iPhone 4S back in 2011, few probably foresaw just how much Digital Assistants would infiltrate the world of business. That said, for many, Siri represented something of a novelty, where entire websites have been dedicated to the amusing answers that Siri supplies to the right questions. Today, however, this particular digital assistant has shaped the way people search, message and conduct day to day business activities. Siri has even provided Google with a road map for transforming the mobile browsing experience, where voice search is now featured as standard, and a person's algorithm takes into account whether a search is tapped or spoken.
Today we are empowered by digital assistants that can do more than ever before, such as finding the news that they ‘think’ will interest you, setting reminders, tracking your daily routines and even analysing your health with fitness wearables.
With so much already achieved, how did we arrive at such an advanced landscape of Digital Assistants? And what may be in store for the future?
In a shocking twist in the story of digital assistants Windows introduced Cortana: an equivalent to Siri. Before its official launch, Windows was stinging from relatively lacklustre Smartphone sales with their HTC range of phones, as well as facing continuing threats within the desktop realm from Apple. Windows 8 also received a lot of criticism (where many were flustered by the two screen split, the illogical full-screen opening of simple media files and the confusing menu system which saw the beloved start button removed before make a reappearance with Windows 8.1).
In steps Cortana with the Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10. She introduced new features and an approach that merged the advanced personalisation of Google Now with the robust voice control that Siri provided – ultimately offering a hybrid that was arguably better than both.
Siri, Cortana, Google Now and Alexa (Amazon’s digital assistant, and the notable underdog) are all already helping us manage our business and personal lives better, search quicker and be served up with the information that we need – when and where we need it. With so much already on the table, industry experts look eagerly to the next generation of digital assistants for ever more innovative help for everyday living. Here are some predictions for the short, medium and long term as we look forward to ever advancing assistants:
Not only this, but they’ll be able to do so over the multiple mediums that they are found, where partnerships will be formed between software makers and hardware producers.
Currently our use of mobile digital assistants is relatively limited, with only a fraction of the interactions that we make being aided by a digital assistant. Experts, however, predict that soon, up to 40% of our mobile usage will be streamlined by voice alone.
Few can imagine a mobile world free of applications. However, this is exactly what is being foreseen as our tech continues to merge, and our digital assistants become more adept and rich in features. This will leave us all with more time to focus on the business tasks that drive growth, rather than flipping from app to app, with more functions managed on our behalf than ever before.