For Some Strange Reason, I Want to Talk to My iPad

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I have never wanted to talk with any of the dozens of computers I've had. Not once did I look at my old CRT and think, "If only I could talk to you like the dudes do on Star Trek." So, I was shocked when I brought my iPad home a few months ago. Waking up one day, the iPad sitting nearby, I found myself thinking, "I wish iPad would tell me the weather." In the following weeks and months, I've wanted my iPad to tell me all kinds of stuff from sports scores to if I had any email. For whatever reason, the iPad strikes me as a Screen I Can Talk To.

That's why the hype around Apple's possible announcement of a "virtual assistant" (i.e. voice control) for the new version of the iPhone could be justified. Apple has only just begun to create devices that break the notions of human-computer interactions that were established at the beginning of the PC age. And now, they may offer a way to interact with those devices that will be an even bigger change than the touchscreens that the iPhone ushered in.

The new Apple assistant is supposedly based on Siri, a voice recognition app company that Apple snatched up last year. And if it's a truly great solution -- which I'm defining as "I say something and the iPad does it" -- it could make up for the disappointment people feel when they realize that Apple is only going to incrementally upgrade the iPhone.

Incidentally, I don't want to talk to my iPhone. It's just the iPad.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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