Over the course of his career, Steve Jobs managed to reduce the physical labor of everything from playing a record or movie, to creating your own records and movies, to telling all of your friends about those records and movies for some reason down to the mere click of a button. But he never quite realized his goal of similarly simplifying television—which is possible, apparently—until near the end of his life, hitting upon a “eureka” moment that led Jobs to exclaim to his biographer, Walter Isaacson, “I’ve finally cracked it!” And according to the New York Times’ Nick Bilton, that “it” could well have been the long-rumored Apple television (the real kind, not this kind), and the “cracking” in question most likely has something to do with everyone’s new creepy digital toady, Siri, who will soon be useful for things besides asking it increasingly graphic sex questions.
Jobs’ vision for the Apple TV, in Bilton’s estimation, involves using that voice-activated artificial intelligence software to replace “the television set’s annoying best friend,” Joel, who always just sits there and says, “Yeah right, like that would really happen,” as though fiction isn’t based entirely on suspension of disbelief, and he’s the only person intelligent enough to notice its certain liberties with logic. And Joel is also convinced that all reality shows are “so fake,” like he’s the only person to ever make that observation. But along with Joel, who sucks, Apple is hoping to replace TV’s other annoying best friend, the remote control—that leaden Victorian-era contraption that requires you to lift your arms and press buttons like some kind of lab monkey every time you want the television to do something.
With Siri integrated into your TV, Bilton surmises, you could simply “bark commands” at it, with Bilton giving examples like, “Put on the latest episode of Gossip Girl,” or “Play some Coldplay music videos,” or “Cut out the middleman and spray a cloud of ether in my face.” (Okay, we suggested that last one.) Bilton now believes that this vision of the future—when Americans can finally do away with the last grudging physical activity so many of them are forced to undertake—could arrive as early as 2013. In the meantime, of course, all your shouting at the TV will continue to be in vain.