Siri is the most useful thing I’ve seen so far this year.
But after playing with it, getting an interview with its CEO (video here on building43) it’s even more important for you to pay attention to.
It is the best example of what the web will be.
Let’s go back.
Web 1994 was the “get me a domain and a page” era.
Web 2000 was the “make my page(s) interactive and put people on it” era.
Web 2010 is the “get rid of pages and glue APIs and people together” era.
Siri is the best example. First, it’s not a website. It’s an application you put on your phone (today iPhone, soon others like Android and Blackberry). Second, it isn’t a search engine, those are so 1998. It’s a system that assists you in your life.
Why is it so different?
Because on the back end they’ve stitched together a sizeable group of APIs from services like Opentable to Flightstats. With more coming soon.
Before it was common only for a couple of APIs to be joined together, here they have dozens. The system figures out which ones need to be used based on what you’re asking for.
That’s the other thing. You ask it to do stuff like “find me a pizza place near me” or “tell me the weather in Chicago this weekend.” With your voice or by typing commands.
Why is this really new and important? Don’t get confused by the awesome voice recognition engine that figures out your speech and what you want with pretty good accuracy. No, that’s not the really cool thing, although Microsoft and other companies have been working on natural language search for many years now and have been failing to come up with anything as useful as Siri.
No, the real secret sauce and huge impact on the future of the web is in the back end of this thing. A few months back the engineers at Siri gave me a secret look at how they stitch the APIs into the system. They’ve built a GUI that helps them hook up the APIs from, say, a new source like Foursquare, into the language recognition engine.
I just asked Siri “who checked into the Half Moon Bay Ritz?”
Now you and I know that we could look at Foursquare to find that answer, but Siri didn’t know the answer and brought me results from Bing. Very unsatisfying.
But the team now could hook up Foursquare’s APIs and make this question answerable.
Siri has developed a new programming language and GUI for the API web. This is huge, although it’s too bad that it’s so early and so hidden. We can’t help Siri’s developers out (if we could, maybe we could add Foursquare’s APIs tonight) and we can’t think of ways to make systems like Foursquare that would have APIs better designed to talk with a system like Siri’s.
I hope everyone takes a look at the video, it really shows the magic of this system, which is getting a lot of great reviews around the web. Most of the bloggers I’ve seen are slobbering over it, deservedly so.
This is the future of the web. How can we get there faster?