With the unveiling of the iPhone 4S, consumers were given a look at Siri – the personal assistant app that comes with the device. It looks like the technology is powered by Nuance, which RIM also licenses for its voice-powered universal search. It seems both run on Nuance technology and the difference is the implementation. It’s not a stretch for RIM to update the voice-powered universal search in a way that’s even better than Siri.
What BlackBerry needs in its implementation of Nuance is something a little more user friendly, less hands-on and a more obvious value proposition. Currently, the implementation of voice-powered search doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sure, you can tell your BlackBerry to look for something, but then you’re presented with a host of options, forcing you to still look at the screen and physically interact with the device. The whole point of voice-powered search and functionality is that you don’t have to touch anything and take your eyes off the task at hand (eg driving).
When you say “find a good Italian restaurant” simply offers a variety of ways you can search that query around your device (eg plug it in to Google Search). Considering it’s the same technology, and the device does an excellent job of interpreting the voice command, it wouldn’t have been hard for RIM to write the software such that it picked out the terms “find” (ie use web search) and “Italian restaurant” to provide me the results. Without some of this basic functionality, there really isn’t any reason to use the voice recognition on BlackBerry. You still have to find the small microphone button (it doesn’t show up in the convenience key settings) and then select a secondary option.
With a little bit more work, better implementation of the technology, and a better focus on user experience, BlackBerry could have a Siri of its own.