Siri seemed pretty futuristic when Apple first released the voice-activated virtual assistant. But with Google, Facebook, Amazon, and a slew of promising startups pushing the limits of interactive interfaces, the original app for making your phone talk back to you is seeming like a bit of a relic.

Leading thinkers in the world of tech are a little concerned. Influential Apple developer Marco Arment wrote in a blog post over the weekend that Apple was falling so far behind in developing artificial intelligence interfaces, the company could fall off the map like Blackberry did.

The concern could soon be--and Apple surely hopes already is--irrelevant. According to The Information, the iconic company has slated releases that could bring its products up-to-par with its competitors as far as artificial intelligence goes.

Writes Information reporter Amir Efrati:

  • Apple is opening Siri to outside app developers: "Ironically, the lack of third-party app integration for Siri is one of the key reasons the founders of Siri, a startup Apple acquired in early 2010, say they left the iPhone maker a couple of years later," writes Efrati. The founders went on to develop voice-activated assistant Viv.
  • The company is working on a speaker similar to  Amazon's Echo: "Like the iPhone already does today, the Web-connected Apple speaker in development would allow people to turn on/off or change settings for home appliances and other devices that support Apple's 'HomeKit' software, says the person with direct knowledge of the project. Such items include lights, sensors, thermostats, plugs, and locks," writes Efrati.

The software developer kit for Siri is reportedly slated to be made available in time for Apple's annual conference in June. The speaker has reportedly been in development since before Echo went on the market last year.

Efrati reports that Apple has some special advantages in these apparent efforts. First, Siri has a leg up on distribution by already being included on Apple's devices. Second, the company has made microphones before, so making an Echo-like device isn't much of a stretch in that sense.

Arment, the developer, wrote in his recent blog post that if "computing continues to be defined by a tightly controlled grid of siloed apps that you poke a thousand times a day on a smooth rectangle of manufacturing excellence, Apple is fine. They're doing a great job of what computing is today, and what it will probably continue to be for a long time."

Now, if trends do move toward a shift in how we interact with our phones and other devices, Apple might still be well positioned after all.

Published on: May 25, 2016