To create and deliver a good product, you must have a vision.
WWDC 2019 showed that Apple is still struggling with the vision for Siri.
Don’t get me wrong; small improvements to voice experiences are necessary and can be powerful. And Apple is making some notable improvements to Siri this fall. But unlike Amazon and Google, Apple didn’t have any big, jaw dropping announcements around Siri or the HomePod. They did share 8 cool new things you’ll be able to do with Siri soon:
- Siri is getting a new voice entirely generated by software (no more audio slices)
- Apple is opening Siri to outside music services with a new SiriKit Audio tool for app developers
- Apple is also opening Siri to outside navigation services with Waze or Google Maps
- Siri will work better with AirPods. Soon it’ll be able to read a message right into your AirPods
- The HomePod will have multi-user support
- HomePod will also be more mobile friendly with a handoff feature coming with the new software update — users will simply need to come close to their HomePod with their iPhone to transfer audio from one device to another
- You’ll also be able to ask Siri to identify what song is playing right from your wrist
- Apple will include the Shortcuts app by default and will have a bunch of highlighted apps and use-cases for it, which will make it easier for you to set up custom routines for Siri
The list above is more table stakes and feature parity instead of innovation. But perhaps these announcements are a sign of a budding voice strategy as Apple opens up Siri to developers and third-party creators.
Each voice assistant should go after what it does best. Amazon’s Alexa, true to its beginnings, is an intelligent assistant great at buying things. Google is an intelligent assistant great for getting information and answers to questions. Microsoft’s Cortana (while no longer positioned as a competitor to Alexa or Google Home) is a great for business productivity. Apple’s Siri, according to their site, is “an intelligent assistant that offers a faster, easier way to get things done on your Apple devices.” This differentiation is a good thing. Apple has the market share given the adoption of iPhones, iPads, Macbooks and Apple Watches. But right now, it’s hard to say they are owning their niche.
When digging into the history of Siri, I see a number of theories as to why Apple has been struggling with Siri. In short, reports cites infighting and lack of vision.
Why is vision important? In the simplest form, ideas need a cohesive vision to make sense. And with focus, we can get flow. Defined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow — known colloquially as “being in the zone” — is a mental state of operation in which a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment while performing an activity. Elimination is a prerequisite for focus. We say yes to one option and no to all other options.
As a result we can narrate a story to customers and employees alike — providing a clear direction to the whole business about the significant benefits that you’ll be delivering to customers in a high-level, short, simple, and achievable fashion.
While this is crucial for all aspects of the business, it’s particularly important for UX designers. Design decisions should be reviewed with the lens of the vision. Designers should ask “does this support, detract or do nothing” to accomplish our vision. If a product lacks focus and tries to accomplish everything and be something to everyone, it will do nothing well.
When it comes to your voice strategy, define the vision. Engage with your customers to better understand the role you play, and could play in their future. Here are a few questions to help you get started:
- Where are we the expert?
- Where can we add value?
- What are their pain points?
It’s tempting to create a packed vision statement. But a good vision statement is short and sweet.
Regardless of what strategies you use to uncover your vision for voice, just remember that anytime you find things getting complicated, all you need to do is commit to one thing. In the beginning, you don’t even have to succeed. You just need to get started and have an experimental mindset. If you’re looking for ways to get started, I recommend this for your next step.