The difference between Siri and Viv

Dag Kittlaus took to the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt to show off Viv, the intelligent assistant his company is building as a follow-on to Siri, which his team built and sold to Apple.

Watch the video below to see Viv in action. But in a nutshell, here are some queries that showcase Viv’s capabilities:

What’s the weather like at home today?

This first one is pretty simple and one that Siri handled just as well.

Was it raining in Seattle three Thursdays ago?

This is the first point of departure for Viv. While both Siri and Viv know how to do the date math (Siri knows three Thursdays ago was April 21st), Viv can go back in time for the weather, Siri cannot. Not that important, but keep reading.

Will it be warmer than 70° near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5pm the day after tomorrow?

This is far more complex a query than Siri can handle. If you ask Siri, “Is it warmer than 70°?”, you’ll get the familiar, checking the web for “Is it warmer than 70°”. Viv parsed and responded correctly to this query.

Here’s another query:

Send Adam 20 bucks for the drinks last night

This query shows how Viv works with third party services. In this case, Venmo is used to send $20 to a friend, Adam. Presumably, Viv already had context that Dag had drinks with Adam last night and knew enough about Adam to send the money.

Another third party demo:

Send my mom some flowers for her birthday

Viv connects to Pro Flowers and shows some arrangements. Dag follows up with:

What about tulips?

Viv interacts with Pro Flowers and changes the offerings to show tulip arrangements. Dag makes the purchase and the flowers are on their way. Key to all this is Viv’s ability to save context, to remember what was discussed previously, make adjustments to the model of a current query, but also to tweak the model of a larger context, like a future meeting or a past event.

We’ve now gone well beyond Siri.

Get me a nice room in Palm Springs for labor day weekend.

Here Viv interacts with another third party,

I need a ride for six people from my office to Madison Square Garden

This time it’s Uber. In this case, the request was for a vehicle big enough to seat six people.

Interestingly, Viv appeared to have been built on a Mac and was demoed running live on an iPhone. Dag got several phone calls during the demo, so Viv was running on a device, not a simulator.

Unlike Siri, Viv is wide open. There’s a Viv Developer Center where developers go to build new apps and teach Viv new things. One can imagine building a specialized Viv context for your environment.

To be clear, Siri is incredibly useful and steadily gains knowledge on the server side (Apple adds new data without having to update Siri on your phone). This is not a slam on Siri. Viv is next generation.

I suspect Apple has similar plans for the next generation of Siri. Hopefully, part of those plans will open up Siri to developers and allow for customization. It’ll be interesting to see if Apple addresses future Siri plans at WWDC.