Posted in: Mobile phones, Mobile Services, Mobile software

Siri for iPhone 4S, the voice-controlled digital assistant, is not as new as you may think

Siri is now an integral part of the iPhone 4S. It’s supposed to do a lot of stuff for you, among which, answer any question you may come up with. You can ask about anything – the weather, movies, restaurants, news, etc. and providing you have an intelligent question, it should get you a reasonably intelligent answer quickly and in the right context.

But Siri is not just an intelligent voice search system. It can also read your messages, emails, notifications for you. Siri has dictate functionality too – you speak and it writes messages, notes, remainders, etc.

Apple has made Siri even more sophisticated – it is after all “your humble personal assistant”. You can speak freely with it and do things naturally. This situation explains it: you get an invitation for lunch as an SMS. You tell Siri to answer on the invitation with Friday and set up you a meeting. So it will send a message back with the answer and will add a remainder for that day. Pretty cool, isn’t it.

Actually, the Siri Assistant is not entirely new and it was available up until several hours ago in the Apple AppStore for free. Unfortunately, the app was just removed from the store, because it supposed to be one of the key selling points of the new iPhone 4S. Here’s a version of the product page that’s cached by Google. You can even watch a demo of it from about a year ago.

And here’s the official Siri promo video, as released by Apple after the iPhone 4S announcement:

Anyway, the story is this. Back in 2010 Apple bought Siri – an iPhone app project to bring next-gen voice controlled technology – you speak to your iPhone in a natural language and it answers you back. Its purpose was quite similar to what we are seeing today – to answer every possible question you may have – a real digital assistant. When Apple bought Siri, it quickly teamed up with Wolfram Alpha to bring us something really unique.

So, to sum it all up, the Siri of today is an integral part of the iPhone 4S and it will do the following for you:

  • Voice Search
  • Reads anything aloud
  • Writes down anything you dictate aloud
  • It will understand your natural language, no need to learn how to use it
  • It put stuff and commands in context
  • It support English, French and German
  • Works within the built-in apps
  • Works over Wi-Fi and 3G (just like Google’s stuff, it needs access to its servers)

To watch the iPhone 4S Siri in live action, you can have a look at Apple’s keynote video, starting at around 72:00.

The iPhone 4S is coming on October 14, so I guess that’s when we are all going to put that Siri under some pressure. Apple promises more language and services are coming with future updates.


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