A really good and useful personal digital assistant has to understand you. Like the proverbial butler of victorian literature, your personal assistant needs to know you and your quirks and it has to have insight into your daily routines, your current appointment calendar, your upcoming planned trips, and so forth.
Lots of folks praise Google Now over Apple’s Siri because of Google Now’s deep reach into the places where you store your information. Google Now can scan the contents of your Google email addresses and pick out information related to items you’ve purchased and flights you’ve booked. It can track packages for you or alert you about flight delays before you’ve even thought to ask about such things. This type of access to your personal data sphere is a little creepy, but it makes Google Now a more useful and capable personal assistant.
A company called Cue, formerly known as Greplin, offered a service that mimicked the victorian butler of whom we spoke earlier. Cue’s application acted as a an accumulator of important information from all of your social media identities. The app could sift through your email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and other accounts to create a unified index and a central inbox. Having all this knowledge about you in one place gave it the ability to predict what you might be looking for, based on context.
Now Apple has acquired Cue and the speculation abounds about how Apple will use the Cue predictive reasoning abilities to amp up Siri. If Siri has the ability to scrape data from our social and email treasure troves, it’ll certainly make it (her?) a more capable companion. Of course, there’s always the concern that we’re giving up some privacy in exchange for this added functionality. But can you ever really have any secrets from your butler? Probably not. Former Cue users will have to wait and see how it all turns out, since the Cue service is no longer available.