The new big Apple rumor is that it has purchased the company behind Cue, a super-smart personal assistant/intelligent calendar app. Cue has shut its existing service, and according to TechCrunch the transaction was about $40 million.
What does Apple have in mind? The common consensus is it plans to boost Siri's powers. There's some logic in this argument, because Apple has been building Siri's team, and in iOS 7 it has already gently expanded Siri's powers. Making Siri a bit more clever would help set the phone apart from its rivals.
But you know what? That's probably not what's happening here, and Apple's future plans for the iPhone don't necessarily revolve around Siri or whatever it has immediately planned for Cue. Siri, as she stands, is becoming ever more useful from a consumer point of view, but as an app "add on" to the iPhone or iPad, she's not going to be the first point of contact you have with your device. Cue is darn smart, partly combining all your various calendar and scheduling apps into one, and partly being an attempt to automatically schedule your day and alert you to upcoming events. But by itself, there's a limit to where this tech is useful in your iPhone experience.
Which makes us think Apple has longer-term plans for Siri's tech, Cue's algorithms, and whatever other apps and hardware startups it buys in the near future. This is particularly true if it is also aligning its future Mac OS with the developments of iOS 8. What Apple may do is wind intelligent question-and-answer natural language systems through iOS on a deeper level, and build in more automatic "before you knew you needed it" technology, dissolving the idea of Siri as an extra to the OS. Why do we know this? Because Apple already dreamed this solution up a long time ago. Never forget the "Knowledge Navigator":
[Image: Flickr user Kio Stark]