Siri may not be living out its full potential under Apple’s wing, but voice-enabled assistants are nevertheless the future of digital technology, Siri’s co-founder and former CEO Dag Kittlaus told CNBC on Tuesday.
Since Apple acquired Siri in 2010, “on the positive side, it’s a lot faster, the speech recognition’s gotten a lot better, but they dropped the ball on a couple things like opening it up to third parties,” said Kittlaus, now co-founder and CEO of Viv, an artificial-intelligence company acquired by Samsung in 2016.
On the whole, voice assistants today are used in “very basic” ways, Kittlaus told Jim Cramer in a “Mad Money” interview. Most consumers use them for setting alarms or reminders, but the potential for them is huge, he said.
“Imagine 2007. [The] iPhone launches. It’s got about nine apps on it, but this is like Weather and Stocks,” he said. “Nine months later, they open the App Store. Now, you’ve got millions and millions of apps that change the world. So we want to do that with AI and with assistants.”
This week, Kittlaus’ team at Viv launched a new platform for third-party companies to create capabilities for Bixby, Samsung’s own voice assistant.
The tool set lets “third parties come in in almost like a Wikipedia-like way,” the CEO said. “So, anyone can add new things to Bixby. Users can enable it.”
“Eventually, you’ve got thousands of things that these things can do for you,” he continued. “It becomes one of the most important parts of your day.”
Soon enough, consumers — who waste millions of hours commuting to and from work — will be able to speak to their connected cars and ask them to order food for when they arrive at home or send gifts to relatives, Kittlaus said, adding that speech is roughly seven times faster than typing.
“It’s absolutely going to happen,” he said. “Once you use that, you don’t go back to the old way, right?”