“Ultimate Mashup” a Glimpse into the Future

Adam DuVander, February 5th, 2010

SiriA new iPhone app is trying to take the fiction out of Science Fiction. Movies have long portrayed people in the future speaking commands to computers. Siri, based on $200M of research and development, is trying to make it so.

Example Siri search -- it looks for delicious

The founders call their application the ultimate mashup, because it currently uses 35-40 APIs to provide the best reply it can. Queries are spoken in simple English, such as “book me a taxi” and “what’s the weather forecast in Boulder this weekend?” Even the speech-to-text translation is an API (in this case, Nuance).

Siri’s secret sauce is in its artificial intelligence that determines which APIs it needs to invoke. That’s where the R&D budget went, when it was still an SRI International project. Of course, Siri still has some problems interpretting what humans consider basic questions. What impressed me is how many of its deficiencies Siri is itself aware of. In the demo video posted below, I show one of them.

The company plans to add more APIs every month. The initial launch is just a platform upon which to build. CEO Dag Kittlaus calls Siri a “click reduction machine,” but goes further in his post The Birth of the Virtual Assistant:

This will be a market in which every player along the line wins. Users will be able to click less, enjoy simpler interactions and receive much-needed help getting things done and managing their day. Participating service providers get simpler discovery, more transactions, and higher consumption rates. This then drives more data dollars to networks, fueling infrastructure expansion.

The real money, it seems, is in transactional APIs, ones where users are making a purchase. Some examples already included in Siri are booking taxis and reserving a table at a restaurant. The company plans to add flight booking, among other ways to promote what Kittlaus calls “frictionless e-commerce.”

In some cases, the APIs just aren’t there yet. At the top of the Siri team’s wishlist? Amazon. The huge web store has been at the forefront of web services, but has held tight control over the purchase interraction.

If you have an iPhone 3GS, check out Siri in the app store and let us know what you think of the future.

Tags: iPhone
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11 Responses to ““Ultimate Mashup” a Glimpse into the Future”

February 5th, 2010
at 5:10 am
Comment by: - Giuli Family

[...] http://blog.programmableweb.com/2010/02/05/ultimate-mashup-a-glimpse-into-the-future/ [...]

February 5th, 2010
at 11:20 pm
Comment by: Bish

great app. It is every bit worth the pre-launch hype.

February 7th, 2010
at 1:45 pm
Comment by: Mats Svensson

Useless about info = useless program?

As usual with these over hyped 2.0-ish things, there isn’t a shred of useful information to be found about it.

First and most important (of course unanswered) question:
WHERE does this thing work?
All over the world?
In Sweden?
Only in the developers country/hometown?

Maybe sacrifice 15 seconds to put that info on its homepage?
No?
Of course not!

Here is a tip:
Things that actually work in real life, have these things documented.
Vaporware does NOT.

February 12th, 2010
at 4:27 am
Comment by: Best New Mashups: Social Graphing, Realtime Emotions and a Virtual Assistant

[...] the ultimate mashup because it uses many APIs to provide the best reply it can (check out our Siri review and demo for more). Queries are spoken in simple English and the app uses artificial intelligence queries to [...]

February 13th, 2010
at 6:04 pm
Comment by: Google, thy days are numbered.

[...] to computers. Siri, based on $200M of research and development, is trying to make it so.” -Adam DuVande“For decades, many have dreamed of having a virtual assistant to answer our questions and do [...]

April 28th, 2010
at 5:42 pm
Comment by: Apple Buys Siri: Largest Mashup Acquisition Ever

[...] the news that Apple bought Siri and its voice-driven personal assistant. The iPhone app, which we covered in February, uses over 35 APIs to find the exact data the user seeks. With a price rumored at $200M, this is by [...]

October 15th, 2010
at 12:08 am
Comment by: SalesClark Bringing the Sales Clerk Experience Online

[...] another type of virtual assistant, see our coverage of iPhone app Siri, which was later bought by Apple in what we called the largest mashup acquisition ever. Tags: [...]

August 18th, 2011
at 11:01 am
Comment by: Need Help Shopping? MyBantu Gives it a Go With APIs

[...] API, Netflix API and various others to make it happen. It’s very similar in idea to Siri, the “ultimate mashup” that Apple later gobbled up in the largest mashup acquisition [...]

August 7th, 2012
at 5:56 pm
Comment by: Today in APIs: Google API for Cancer Research, Siri-like Voice-to-Text and 16 New APIs

[...] Nuance, the same company behind the original speech-to-text in Apple’s prized Siri has released a new Siri-like API called Nina. When Siri was just an iPhone app, Nuance powered one of the many APIs behind Siri’s success. [...]

August 7th, 2012
at 7:19 pm
Comment by: Today in APIs: Google API for Cancer Research, Siri-like Voice-to …

[...] Nuance, the same company behind the original speech-to-text in Apple’s prized Siri has released a new Siri-like API called Nina. When Siri was just an iPhone app, Nuance powered one of the many APIs behind Siri’s success. [...]

August 7th, 2012
at 8:16 pm
Comment by: Today in APIs: Google API for Cancer Research, Siri-like Voice-to … | The Research Consulting Site

[...] Nuance, the same company behind the original speech-to-text in Apple’s prized Siri has released a new Siri-like API called Nina. When Siri was just an iPhone app, Nuance powered one of the many APIs behind Siri’s success. [...]

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John Musser
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Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.