Despite having over a decade to establish themselves as indispensable voice assistants, Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant faced obstacles due to their cumbersome design and strategic missteps. This created an opportunity for chatbots to emerge as contenders in the race for AI dominance. While both have gained widespread attention and adoption, it is evident that AI chatbots have taken the lead in terms of functionality and user experience. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the fall of voice assistants in the AI race and the rise of AI chatbots.
The Rise Of Voice Assistants: The Worst Financial Mistake in Tech Industry
12 years ago, Scott Forstall, who was Apple's head of software at the time, demonstrated Siri by pressing an iPhone button and asking it questions. Mr Forstall expressed his amazement, stating, "I've been in the A.I. field for a long time, and this still astonishes me." However, since then, it seems that people have not shared the same level of enthusiasm for Siri and other AI-powered voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant. Instead, these technologies have been subject to criticism and have even become the subject of jokes. The progress in this field has been minimal, leaving us wondering what exactly went wrong.
Siri encountered significant technological challenges, including cumbersome code that required weeks to update even for basic features, according to John Burkey, a former Apple engineer involved in the development of the assistant. Additionally, former employees mentioned that Amazon and Google made miscalculations in predicting the usage patterns of voice assistants, leading them to invest in areas that ultimately yielded minimal returns. As a result of these failed experiments, enthusiasm for the technology dwindled within the companies.
The technology industry is currently buzzing with excitement over a new breed of virtual assistants known as chatbots. Just a few months ago, Chat GPT struggled to answer a tricky question, but now it writes computing codes. This surge of enthusiasm for chatbots highlights how voice assistants, which once enjoyed similar levels of excitement, have failed to maintain their position at the forefront of the AI race. In a recent interview with The Financial Times, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, expressed his view that voice assistants are "dumb as a rock," emphasizing that newer advancements in AI would take the lead. The fact that Microsoft has forged a close partnership with OpenAI, investing a substantial $13 billion in the startup, only underlines Nadella's words.
AI is changing technology, and Apple is lagging. How is it connected with Apple Vision Pro?
When discussing AI, it is impossible not to mention Siri. While Apple initiated a trend with voice assistants, it quickly became outdated in comparison to newer advancements in the field. With the new Apple Vision Pro, could this be Apple’s last attempt to save Siri? Let’s find out why it is too late.
First of all, in the past ten years, the total spending on VR and AR headsets has surpassed $21 billion. As voice is one of the main ways to operate the system, such a big player as Apple can influence the voice assistant development industry and motivate companies to create new features. According to a report from The Information, Apple is allegedly planning to utilize its Siri assistant to simplify the process of developing augmented reality (AR) apps for its headset. The report suggests that Apple's new software tools could be user-friendly enough to enable any technology enthusiast to create AR apps using Siri and subsequently release them on the App Store. The report states, "Via the Siri voice assistant, to build an AR app that can be made available for download on Apple's App Store by others."
Even with these positive movements, in the internal environment, Apple employees themselves express dissatisfaction with Siri, acknowledging that the company's virtual assistant lags behind its competitors, particularly in light of OpenAI's GPT technology. According to another report, employees have criticized Siri's database, describing it as "clunky". Concurrently, Apple has experienced a talent drain among its key AI and machine learning engineers, who have been departing for other companies, including Google.
Additionally, AI voice recognition has gained prominence, but as we remember, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was among over 1,100 people who signed an open letter calling for a six-month ban on creating powerful AI. The implications of this timeframe remain intriguing, raising questions about whether Apple has brought itself to the bay.
According to AI experts, there is a predicted convergence of chatbot and voice assistant technologies in the future. This convergence implies that individuals will have the capability to control chatbots through speech, and users of voice assistant products will be able to request virtual assistants to assist them with their work-related tasks, going beyond simple functions like checking the weather. Without this integration capability, we will not be able to enable more seamless and versatile interactions with voice assistants. Take it or leave it.