By Alex Fitzpatrick
September 23, 2016

Buried in Bloomberg’s report Friday morning about Apple moving ahead with its Amazon Echo competitor is a far more interesting nugget: Apple believes it’s just three years away from a fully voice-controlled iPhone, according to an unnamed source.

From Bloomberg:

A few thoughts on that…

  1. Siri’s gotten so much better than it was when it first launched. But it has very far to go before it’s able to effectively emulate the computer on the Enterprise. Still, it’s in the realm of the possible.
  2. Maybe this’ll feel retrograde in a decade, but how many people really want to control everything with their voice? It’s handy for some stuff, but not everything—especially not gaming. And I personally still feel self-conscious when I’m using Siri in public, as I suspect lots of folks do as well. (My colleagues Lisa Eadicicco and John Patrick Pullen have more on the future of voice control here and here, respectively.)
  3. On the flip side, a fully voice-controlled phone/tablet/computer that works well would be wonderful for users with various accessibility needs.

Clearly Apple’s convinced that voice control is the future—along with Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others, all of whom are investing heavily in the area. Given the surprise success of the Echo, maybe they’re on to something.

Write to Alex Fitzpatrick at alex.fitzpatrick@time.com.

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