Recent postings on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s jobs site show the company is looking to hire 12 new Siri developers — and it may be just in time. With Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s increased competition with Samsung and others, it’s not surprising the company may be looking to its personal assistant more indispensable.
Over the past few years, Siri has become an integral part Apple’s iOS, and although it has had some setbacks, it’s still arguably one Apple’s most innovative mobile features. But others have begun to catch up to Siri’s functionality — some even surpass it.
When Samsung launched its new Galaxy S4, the company came up with the tag line “life companion” for the phone and touted the S Voice feature. Similar to Siri, Samsung’s S Voice allows users to use voice commands to ask questions, place calls, and send texts. In comparison tests by The Christian Science Monitor, S Voice on the Galaxy S III was competitive with Siri, and even outperformed it at times.
The next contender, although not a voice personal assistant, is Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s new Android app Google Now. Google Now offers calendar reminders, location-based traffic updates and other time-sensitive information. The app was the recent source of a little controversy between Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). Google said the app wasn’t available on the iPhone yet because Apple hadn’t approved it, meanwhile Apple said the app was never sent to App Store for approval.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s strength in the personal assistant arena lies with its first-mover advantage in the space — particularly in the automotive industry. Apple is working with about a dozen automotive companies to integrate Siri into cars, dubbing it “Eyes Free.” When Siri is paired to the car via Bluetooth, drivers can ask Siri for directions, make phone calls, send and read texts, play music, and ask questions that don’t require a web browser to open.
Apple’s move into the automotive space is just another way it’s trying to keep current iPhone users hooked on Siri. The company needs to fill in niches like the automotive market to prove to smartphone users that it’s an indispensable feature.