Speed Reads

move over, siri

This new virtual assistant wants to be the Siri of your dreams

If you've ever missed a bill payment, double-booked your calendar, or forgotten an important birthday, chances are you've readily declared your need for a personal assistant. In 2011, Apple tried to make those dreams come true when it unveiled Siri, a virtural assistant whose eager-to-please and optimistically open-ended "What can I help you with?" prompt was just a button-push away. Finally!, cried the iPhone-toting masses. The helper I need will be by my side at all times!

Turns out, that wasn't quite the case. Brilliantly sassy though she may be, Siri's many shortcomings became apparent shortly after her lauded launch. She's a whiz at simple tasks that require interacting with apps one at a time, but she can't combine functionalities, as Wired notes, and she falls short in more involved projects.

Enter Viv, the newest virtual assistant — coming from the creators of Siri themselves. Viv's goal is to be what you always wanted Siri to be, which she'll accomplish by teaching herself to understand new commands and perform new functions. With this ability, Viv will be able to take non-app specific requests — like "Find me the cheapest seat on an evening flight from Dallas to Chicago next Thursday" — and execute the series of tasks required to fulfill them.

The backbone of Viv is based on three main principles devised by her creators:

Viv is an open system that will let innumerable businesses and applications become part of its boundless brain. The technical barriers are minimal, requiring brief "training" (in some cases, minutes) for Viv to understand the jargon of the specific topic. As Viv's knowledge grows, so will its understanding; its creators have designed it based on three principles they call its "pillars": It will be taught by the world, it will know more than it is taught, and it will learn something every day. [Wired]

While the creators are optimistic their vision of Viv will come to fruition, they're not sure exactly when she'll be available to the public. For more on Viv, including an infographic depicting just how these multi-faceted commands would play out, head over to Wired.