This past weekend I was scouring the web for what I’ll call an intelligent software agent app– little utilities that run out and do something or gather information, and return with something you asked it to retrieve.
As it turns out there are plenty of such utilities but few do what I wanted done. I found one you might like; especially if you shop Amazon frequently and want notification for price changes. It’s called PriceWatcher and what it does is useful if Amazon is your thing and you don’t mind spending lunch money on an app without a free trial.
There’s not much to PriceWatcher and that’s how it should be. As an intelligent software agent it grabs prices on specific products from Amazon’s database and lists them spreadsheet style. Then, it regularly checks Amazon for price changes and alerts you accordingly.
That’s what I want Siri to do.
Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Watch, I want Siri to have an intelligent software agent function that goes beyond checking prices on Amazon. Siri can check the weather but why can’t Siri tell me when it’s about to rain (similar to Dark Sky but with an attitude) wherever I happen to be at the moment. Why can’t Siri tell me about a traffic jam on the freeway or clogged city streets before I get there?
That’s the kind of activity I really want Siri to get into. PriceWatch does a tiny piece of that intelligent software agent work, but it’s Mac only and there’s no Siri on the Mac. Yet. It might be easy for such an agent to dig up prices on Amazon, but I don’t shop Amazon every day of my life.
Apple could just as easily have Siri work to deliver price changes on App Store apps I’m looking at, or let me know what’s new in the iTunes Music Store. Siri has yet to become the intelligent assistant that Apple promoted way back in the day of iPhone 4s. Siri’s voice recognition has improved. Siri’s snarky attitude is acceptable (considering its coming from your iPhone) but Apple doesn’t seem to have taken great strides in implementing such capabilities.
I have a few thoughts. Siri is technology that listens and acts upon commands, but it’s not local to your iPhone and likely not to be local to the Mac whenever Apple decides Mac users will appreciate Siri’s grace on a Mac. Siri still needs an internet connection.
Also, getting specific commands and an API (application programming interface) to work across and within OS X is a major undertaking. Apple has lead the computer industry into new interfaces from the early days of the Mac to the iPod to the iPhone. What’s next?
What users want Siri to do is something similar to PriceWatcher but greatly expanded. Reminder alerts are the simplest form of using Siri but we’re ready for more. It’s been years already. Why isn’t Siri integrated into Apple Maps so we can be informed of road tie ups and congestion? Why doesn’t Siri tell us we need to leave early for work when the road conditions are bad and traffic is snarled?
And, yes, like PriceWatcher, I want Siri to check on product prices and not just by displaying a Google search page, but actually answer a question such as, “Siri, what’s the price of a new MacBook with 512GB of SSD storage and the m7 CPU?” We see exactly that kind of interface with JARVIS from Iron Man. Apple, the future is calling. Will you answer?