If you ask someone about Apple's biggest success, you won't likely hear the words "Siri" or "Maps." Siri is inconsistent and still in beta, while iOS Maps was panned for taking a huge step back from Google Maps. A recent report, however, reminds us how important both are to Apple's future: the two services are rumored to be included in the next version of Mac OS X.
According to 9to5Mac, early test builds of OS X 10.9 include the virtual assistant and navigation service. Apple supposedly began working on OS X 10.8 and 10.9 at the same time. Mountain Lion was heavy on iOS features, like Reminders, Airplay, and Notification Center. 10.9 will supposedly pick up its leftovers, highlighted by these two.
It's possible Maps would also be a stand-alone app, but the report only mentions it as a framework for developers. If it makes it into the final version of 10.9, devs will have the option of embedding maps into their Mac App Store apps. Whether they'll want to, after the Maps backlash, is another question.
As for Siri, it would supposedly look much like it does on the iPad. Expect a small window at the bottom of the screen. The voice assistant would be less useful on a PC than on a smartphone or tablet, but it could come in handy for setting reminders or checking the weather. Voice dictation is already available on Macs, as it shipped with Mountain Lion.
Playing the long game
Despite early criticism, Tim Cook is playing the long game against Google (Digitally altered from original Shutterstock image)
So why bake two heavily-criticized features into OS X? Both are key to Apple's future: they're ammo in the war against Google. Maps has been a PR disaster, but if Apple wants to separate itself from all Google services, creating it was a necessary step.
Siri represents another front against Google: search. It's primitive now, but Siri could eventually be iPhone owners' primary way of retrieving information.
If Apple repeats last year's schedule, OS X 10.9 will enter public beta in February, and release in late July. Little else is known about the update, but we'll likely hear more within the next few months.