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At Long Last, Is Apple Inc. Bringing Siri to the Mac?

By Evan Niu, CFA - Feb 26, 2016 at 8:10AM

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Better late than never.

Image source: Apple.

This has been a long time coming. Apple (AAPL 1.62%) first introduced its virtual assistant Siri way back in 2011 alongside the iPhone 4s. Siri would soon make its way to the iPad, but to date has never been included on the Mac (Apple did add voice dictation to OS X, though). Siri is now even on the new Apple TV as a flagship feature, allowing users to find video content with voice commands.

However, that may all be changing soon with the next version of OS X, 10.12, according to a recent report from 9to5Mac.

Back to the Mac
The Mac maker has reportedly been testing internal versions of Siri on the Mac for quite some time, but now has a specific goal in mind for how the user interface will work. Siri on the Mac is almost ready for prime time. There will be a menu bar icon that users click in order to activate Siri, which will bring up a voice interface that's similar to iOS. "Hey, Siri" is also expected to be supported, with the Mac always listening for that activation phrase. It's worth noting that Apple filed some patents in 2014 suggesting that it was working on a Mac-based Siri.

While the past couple of years have seen incremental performance improvements in OS X, Siri could be a headlining feature for this year's OS X update, which is expected to be unveiled at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in June. This would represent the continued feature convergence of iOS and OS X, a trend that Steve Jobs kicked off in 2010 at Apple's Back to the Mac event while unveiling a redesigned MacBook Air.

Everybody's doing it
Seeing as how Microsoft (MSFT 1.07%) made Cortana an important feature of Windows 10, it was just a matter of time before Apple followed suit. Of course, Apple has been working on this for a number of years, as evidenced by aforementioned patent filings, but technically Microsoft beat it to the punch with integrating a virtual assistant into a desktop platform. Doing so would bring Apple that much closer to its original 1987 Knowledge Navigator video that ex-CEO John Sculley commissioned decades ago.

Even though Cortana isn't a huge driver of Windows 10 adoption -- people are happy enough just to get away from Windows 8 -- it's an important step toward the proliferation of virtual assistants. Every major tech player has been researching and developing voice recognition software and virtual assistant algorithms in varying degrees. Apple started the trend, so it might as well keep it going.

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