What it is: Apple announced that Siri’s “Give me the news” feature is now out of beta, which allows users to ask Siri for the latest news everyday.
What do most people use Siri for? For many people, they don’t. Siri is useful for hands-free computing, but for many people, there’s no compelling reason to use Siri right now beyond convenience.
That’s why Apple’s latest Siri feature is important. Just by asking Siri, “Give me the news,” you can retrieve news from your favorite source such as Fox News, The Washington Post, or the BBC. This task can be especially handy for Apple’s upcoming HomePod.
What will people use HomePod for everyday? Chances are they’ll want information such as news, weather, or traffic reports. HomePod and Siri need to focus on the needs of hands-free computing. If you needed a computer but couldn’t touch it, what would you want to do?
While driving, Siri makes sense in CarPlay so you can control your stereo or get driving directions without taking your hands off the steering wheel. HomePod has no other user interface beyond Siri so it can be a news source, but it needs to do so much more than just play music. Right now, HomePod looks like it’s designed to steer people to Apple Music subscriptions, which is fine but that’s not a pressing need that most people want.
Hands-free computing through Siri and HomePod can be a revolution, but it needs to target a unique niche. The iPhone is essentially a computer in your pocket so that’s why the iPhone redefined the smartphone market. Instead of requiring a keyboard and a mouse, the iPhone replaced that user interface with a touch screen. HomePod and Siri need to replace the touch screen with a voice interface, but it also needs to go one step further and solve a pressing need.
The iPhone made it easy to have a computer wherever you go, which helped spawn driving directions, ride-sharing services, and services like Yelp to find and evaluate businesses. What will HomePod and Siri do in a similar fashion? If Siri and HomePod can’t find unique niche to fill, HomePod risks becoming like Apple TV, an interesting product but nothing necessary or critical.
HomePod is coming soon so we’ll get to see how sales go and how useful people find HomePod and Siri. The “Give me the news” feature is a start. Now let’s see where else Siri and HomePod can go to make everyone want HomePod in their home or office just like everyone wants a smartphone today.