When Apple announced the new iPhone 4S three years ago, the company didn’t forget to introduce the world to Siri. Siri is a personal assistant that’s built into all of Apple’s iPhone 4S smartphone models and of course, the newer ones too. The software isn’t an app in the iPhone sense. It’s not something that a person can download from the App store. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t have an icon that a person presses to launch it. Because of this, a lot of people ask about what exactly Siri is and where it originated from.

A Simple Description

Siri is a speech recognition computer application. It has both speech output and input. A person can speak to it, and it can speak back to them. People speak to Siri to ask questions and give commands to complete small tasks.

Siri doesn’t process their speech input locally on their phone. Instead, the software sends commands to a remote server. Because of this, people need to be connected to a 3G signal or Wi-Fi network when using this application.

siriA Brief History

Siri isn’t Apple’s first venture into the world of voice-activated controls and recognised speech even though the programme makes a number of big leaps in the capabilities of VoiceOver. This is the technology that has been used in Mac computers since OS X 10.4 as well as iPhones since iPhone 3GS.

One of the main differences is that VoiceOver was heralded as an accessibility feature. The system was designed mainly for people who are visually impaired and those who cannot operate iPhones while Siri is meant for the general market.

Apple didn’t create this technology in house. Instead, it acquired Siri Inc. in 2010. This is the same company that created an iPhone app known as the Siri Personal Assistant. After it took over the company, Apple decided to withdraw the app from the App store.

Dialects, Accents and Languages

The software is technically still being developed and the biggest limitation to the app right now is language support. Currently, Siri works with English, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian, Korean and Spanish, however more language support is in the works and also it’s important to note that Siri is designed to work best with specific accents and dialects so the accuracy rate will be at its best for native speakers.

One of the striking features of Siri is that it will improve as more people use it. It collects data from users such as regional dialects, accents and common phrases and analyses that information to improve itself. The more that a specific person uses it, the better it understands the characteristics and particular accent of their speech.

Services that Siri Leverages

There are a number of services that Siri leverages. This includes Gayot, OpenTable, Yelp, Yahoo Local and Boorah for restaurant and business questions. It uses StubHub and Eventful for concert and event information. If a person wants movie reviews and information, it utilises Rotten Tomatoes, MovieTickets and the New York Times.

Wolfram Alpha is used to provide answers to factual questions, and Google and Bing are queried for Web searches. Numerous other big hitters are expected to be added as the Siri service grows.

Do you use Siri? Comment below.

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