Apple Seeks Someone To Make Siri Sassier

Multinational corporation with $470 billion market-cap ISO witty, creative writer/editor to help virtual assistant charm humans with witty repartee.

You: combine "a love for language, wordplay, and conversation" with "demonstrated experience in bringing creative content to life within an intense technical environment."

Me: Apple.

The tech giant is keen to enhance Siri's already-distinctive personality and strengthen the virtual assistant's voice, according to a job listing posted on Apple's site and first spotted by 9to5Mac.

The listing, which has since been removed, seeks a "uniquely creative individual" who can "develop and write original dialog," "refresh and refine existing Siri dialog" and "evolve Siri as a distinct, recognizable character." The ideal candidate would also have a "love for language, wordplay and conversation." Screenwriters, get thee to Silicon Valley.

The push to make Siri more of a personality may be an effort on Apple's part to strengthen -- and then capitalize on -- the emotional bond people already feel with their phones. A survey of one thousand cellphone owners found that 57 percent of respondents felt a "personal connection" with their phones. Users also want assistants to have some attitude: according to the survey, 60 percent of users want their assistant to be "matter-of-fact," nearly half want it to be funny and just under a third want it to be sassy. Three percent of respondents actually preferred an assistant that was "nagging in nature."

Siri's personality has so far set it apart from the growing number of virtual assistants coming to market, such as Google Now, Samsung's S-Voice and Desti. After all, how many other virtual assistants can say they've been hosted on primetime talkshows, featured on Saturday Night Live and memorialized in endless Tumblrs, Twitter accounts and YouTube videos?

But sass alone can't save an assistant. In 1994, Wildfire Communications launched a phone-based assistant, Wildfire, that featured a roster of witty comebacks and snide remarks. Tell "her" you're depressed, and she'd shoot back, "Oh, great! Now I'm a therapist?" Other human affects included sighing when she was summoned in the middle of the night. The voice-controlled assistant appealed users -- and reviewers -- but failed to make significant inroads in the market.

Apple's job opening offers a small glimpse into how Apple conceives and develops Siri's sassy persona, which has been just as, if not more, endearing to iPhone owners than Siri's practical abilities. It seems that Apple is actually open to incorporating users' suggestions for Siri comebacks: the company specifies that prospective hires must "develop a rapid editorial process and workflow for eliciting ideas (from internal, external, and user sources), creating and refining dialog, soliciting internal reviews, getting dialog into production, and learning from user reaction to it." (emphasis added)