Siri Creator Demos New AI That Doesn't Suck This Time

Image: Bryan Menegus’s phone
Image: Bryan Menegus’s phone

At TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY, Siri creator Dag Kittlaus performed the first public demo of Siri’s new cousin, Viv. Kittlaus described the brains of Viv as, “software that’s writing itself,” which is a pretty bold statement with some implications that call to mind the dreariest of Skynet dystopias. But what exactly makes it any better than Siri?


The fact is we don’t yet know how good this new voice assistant will be, but we can reflect a little bit on what we see during the controlled demo in the video below. For starters, Viv is designed to integrate seamlessly with third party apps, which is a major deficit on Siri’s part. The new AI was able to send money via Venmo, book a room through, and hail a cab from Uber. And it did so quickly and with no apparent hassle. Kittlaus later in the presentation described Viv as a “marketplace” that he saw as an improvement upon app stores.

Where Viv really shines is in its ability to parse complex questions. In one sample query, Kittlaus asked his robot, “will it be warmer than 70-degrees near the Golden gate bridge after 5pm the day after tomorrow?” which Viv was able to answer. We will update this post to reflect how wrong Viv was if it’s over 70 in San Fransisco later this week.

Whether or not Viv will be able to carry on a natural conversation remains to be seen. Either way, third-party integration and ability to understand convoluted questions makes Viv an attractive option if it’s able to deliver on the promises of this demo. That said, Kittlaus and crew have been working on Viv for over four years and—although he promised some activity later this year— we still have no sense of when it’ll be available to the public, and what form it will take when it finally invades our lives with its superpowers.


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I’m done upgrading my phone until there’s a really good voice assistant. There’s no other feature I require. Siri is so dumb it hurts.

“Find a non-Starbucks coffee shop along my route with at least three stars on Yelp that’s open til 11 PM” is sort of my Turing Test for success.