Quick. Can you name the major players in technology’s talking speaker category? Well, first there is Amazon’s Alexa, followed closely by the stupidly named Assistant in the Google Home. Uh, um… let’s see. Oh, yeah. Siri in Apple’s HomePod.
What else? It’s OK to mention Bixby in Samsung Home, which is something of a cross between HomePod and George Jetson’s bedroom radio, but let’s stack it on the pile, too. What is common about all four? First, they’re not very bright. What else?
Well, about not being very bright– they cannot identify different voices. A voice is a voice is a voice to Siri, Alexa, Assistant, and probably Bixby but I just don’t have enough hands on experience to tell for sure. Your voice. My voice. Whatever voice they hear, they respond to.
So, who cares? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a Siri that recognizes your voice and responds accordingly? Alright, that’s not a big deal on your iPhone, but a multi-user iPad should be able to understand multiple voices. Oh. Wait. My bad. We don’t have multi-user iPads. Yet.
But we should. We don’t have multi-user HomePods, either. But we should.
Think of the advantage a HomePod would have if it could recognize different voices. For example, “Hey, Siri. Check my calendar.” For now, Siri can only check Calendar events on whichever device from which you summon her ghostly presence. Try the same request on HomePod and what do you get?
See a problem brewing ahead?
Apple could make HomePod a much smarter Siri device simply by matching a voice to an Apple ID. Then, you could sit at home listening to music with your significant other nearby, maybe even among family and friends, and ask Siri, “Play some music you know I like” and Siri would know who you are and respond with music you like instead of, you know, just music, or music from whatever Apple ID was used to setup HomePod.
When it comes to usable technology, a Siri that knows who you are vs. anyone else’s voice is an idea whose time has come. Apple is good at playing the long game and last year the company bought Shazam. Maybe you’ve seen and heard Shazam on TV. Maybe you used the Shazam app. What is cool about Shazam technology is the ability to recognize one song out of millions.
Late last year I wrote that Shazam is not about Apple Music. Sure, it could be used there, but doesn’t it make more sense to take the technology and apply it to Siri so Apple’s talking assistant can recognize your voice among others?
And what better device to use that than HomePod? And, maybe Apple TV. Siri needs to know who you are by your voice and Apple already has the technology to make it happen.