Especially in the second era of Steve Jobs, one particular characteristic which Apple exhibited repeatedly was the amazing ability to anticipate customer demands and desire, and then ‘mainstream’ technology innovations to meet those needs. The Apple that Jobs built is a great mainstreamer.
Take the iPad, for example: far from being the first tablet form-factor computing device, the iPad was introduced to a somewhat sceptical and market, whose cynicism was built upon 15 years of failed tablet PCs from a variety of manufacturers. Pundits and technology commentators took great delight forecasting a similar fate for this attempt from Apple – only to have Apple’s only real problem being making enough of them, with roughly 25-30 million devices being sold to date. They took a concept, refined it, and then made it more than just palatable to the mainstream consumer – they created (another) object of desire. When Apple integrates a new technology into their products, it’s a good idea to pay attention for insights into where the future is heading.
Enter Siri, a voice-recognition capability that has been integrated into the new iPhone 4S. It supports ‘natural language’ queries, so you can ask Siri “will I need an umbrella tomorrow?”, and it will figure out you’re asking about the weather and provide you with the forecast.
Again, voice recognition is not new, but with Apple baking it into their flagship phone, will this change the way we interact with all of our devices – tablets, PCs, TVs..fridges? Worth thinking about how we, as a church, can take advantage of this new way of working – how long before we need to be providing the right information to companies like Apple, so that finding local Mass times is only a matter of saying “Siri, where I can experience the miracle of the Eucharist right now?”