Announcing our new voice activation integration with Apple’s Siri today was the culmination of months of hard work fueled by voice-controlled test coffees in our Dublin office. And it raised a few questions: Why voice control? Why Siri?
Assessing the voice interface ecosystem, Siri was the natural choice to start with for a number of reasons. One being the positive results we’ve experienced in the past by prioritizing Apple technology. Drop Scale, the Bluetooth-enabled kitchen scale, was selected for inclusion in Apple Stores in the US, Canada and the UK when introduced back in 2014. In addition, the Drop Recipes app was first launched on iOS — and frequently featured on the App Store as one of the top recipe apps — before we added Android support in 2017. We’re now introducing Siri voice activation capability within the Drop Recipes app, starting with Bosch Coffee Machines with Home Connect. Since 2016, all Home Connect-enabled ovens have been integrated with the Drop platform.
“Integrating Drop’s technology with Siri creates a beautifully simple and genuinely helpful user experience, totally in keeping with Drop’s mission to help people make food more. We chose Siri for our voice control because it excels in the two most important aspects: ubiquity and privacy. In sharing Apple’s dedication to security, Siri ensures greater privacy for our end users as all processing of Siri shortcuts happens directly on the device and not in the cloud.”
—Mark Wheatley, Head of Product at Drop
The modern era of voice assistants began with Apple’s Siri in 2011, and while Amazon Alexa joined in 2014 and Google followed in 2016, Apple are still holding onto their market share lead with Siri. It is also important to take into account not only the number of Siri devices available, but the active usage of the voice assistant functionality. Where both Apple and Google claim their voice assistants are available on over 500 million devices (mostly smartphones), only Apple can claim 500 million devices have actually used Siri — rather than just having it exist on the device as a preset.
Voice Assistants Used on Smartphones
Apple Siri - 44%
Google Assistant - 30%
Amazon Alexa - 17%
Samsung Bixby - 4%
Microsoft Cortana - 4%
Also, unusually among big tech companies, Apple has maintained a firm standpoint on user privacy. Whereas assessing and analyzing user data from the cloud allows other companies (most notably Google and Facebook) to improve their AI capabilities, it does so at the expense of user privacy. With Apple, all processing of Siri shortcuts is implemented directly on the device, rather than by sending sound-bytes from our homes out to the cloud.
Security is something which has been, and will always be, of utmost importance to us at Drop. An example of this was achieving GDPR compliancy well ahead of schedule, going to great lengths to restrict data collection and access internally. We also have a rigid approach to building infrastructure and implementing and enforcing security measures.
To help our users get the most of voice activation in the kitchen, one of our main criteria was how well the voice assistant performed in terms of accuracy of voice recognition. In comparison to Google Assistant, which has the benefit of Google’s massive search engine capabilities for in-depth answers, Siri won outright in the most recent head-to-head comparisons for the Command category — which is precisely where our needs lie.
“We are very excited to announce this integration with Apple’s voice command, Siri. The majority of Siri-enabled devices travel around with us, and they greatly outnumber those supported by other voice technologies. This represents another first for us.”
—Ben Harris, Drop CEO and Co-founder
From March 11, users of Bosch Coffee Machines with Home Connect can ask Siri to start brewing their coffee for them remotely — an integration powered by Drop. This marks just the beginning of what will be an integral part of the platform going forward. We believe the kitchen is the place in our homes that can reap the biggest benefits from voice technology. We plan to continue adding voice capabilities to Drop Recipes to power the hundreds of different appliances models that are currently compatible.
With our current partners alone, over 17 million appliances will be powered by Drop in the next three years, and Siri will ultimately interact with all of them. This will allow our users to control their appliances whilst keeping their hands free for cooking.
If you’d like to see our coffee-capabilities in action, check out this quick video from our in-office testing:
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