.. I suspect this is in response to rumors of a Siri enabled Apple TV product being released end of 2012.
I think a big takeaway is that as the iPhone overnight mainstreamed gestural controls , we need to be prepared for voice control starting to feature more in TV UI/UX.
Even if this ends up being a folly, once Google and Apple, have a go, all the other TV manufacturers will most likely follow suit.
I don’t believe voice will replace everything a 5 button remote can do, but will augment the experience, in the same way that gestures on mobile/tablet are a layer over the traditional point and click. A big difference for TV is that the cost of switching modes is finding and picking up the remote as well as a complete mental switch from language to spatial navigation; a kind of inertia.
My suspicion is that it will influence that first 30 seconds where a user starts casual and then decides if they need to take the interaction to the remote.
The wildcard here is the ability for agents like Siri to facilitate the construction of a complex query and course of action through a conversation.
The cynic in me thinks that if conversational interfaces work and become the norm, we will be able to devote a lot less pixels to navigational prompts.. making more space for advertising :)
If the weak link in this,the voice recognition, fails to live up to expectations this could be a farce. As impressive progress as Siri is, it has not really lived up to expectations, so if Apple do introduce a TV with a Siri like function as a major component, I’m expecting it to bomb. … but deep inside, I want it to work and be a surprise and a delight.
The other possibility to this one, is that Apple are going to have a companion device with their TV half way in size between an iPhone and iPad – which would be just about the right size.