Although you might associate Siri with Apple, that particular pocket assistant wasn’t born in Cupertino. In fact, Siri was an independent app before its acquisition by Apple in 2010, and now its founders are back with a new and improved version, “Viv”. According to a report in the Washington Post, two of Siri’s founders, Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer, are on the cusp of launching a new AI. Name Viv, it’s purported to be an even more useful and intuitive assistant than Siri, Google, Cortana or Alexa.
All of those are limited by interactions: sure, they can all play music off Spotify or order an Uber, but they’re limited to picking from a list of scripted responses. Viv is supposed to be far more flexible, imitating the feel of a real human assistant.
The end prize is worth fighting for, which is why a serious new AI is worth talking about. Virtual assistants can serve as the intermediary between humans and apps, provided that they work well enough and consistently enough. If those boxes can be ticked, Viv could “reinvent mobile commerce” — not the future we were promised, but probably the one we deserve right now.