Television is broken. I know it. You know it. Steve Jobs knew it.
I have a pretty state-of-the-art 2011 Sony LED TV, complete with Hulu Plus, Netflix and YouTube apps. Yet it still usually takes me about a dozen clicks on a button-rich remote to get to what I want to watch. By the time you actually load up the latest Daily Show, your dinner is getting cold and your drink is getting warm.
Wouldn’t it be so much better if you could simply tell your TV what you wanted to see, when to pause or when to turn the volume down? The remote could stay hidden down the back of the couch for good. You could ask for a specific show or YouTube clip, or just be wonderfully lazy and say something like “play me a new sitcom.”
Near the end of the mammoth Steve Jobs biography, there’s a tantalizing mention of the former Apple CEO working on the problem of the TV interface toward the end of his days. “I’ve finally cracked it!” Jobs said, but we never find out what “it” is. Now, if a New York Times report is to be believed, “it” is voice-activated TV — using Siri, the cutting-edge, intelligent agent baked into the iPhone 4S.