Apple unveils Siri: The app that lets you talk to your phone

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Apple today unveiled Siri for iOS 5, a voice-activated tool that will allow you to control many aspects of your iPhone and which can perform tasks automatically.

On the newly launched iPhone 4S, Siri lets you use voice interaction to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. “Ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk. Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back. Siri is so easy to use and does so much, you’ll keep finding more and more ways to use it,” says Apple.

“For decades technologists have teased us with this dream that we can talk to our technology,” said Apple’s Phil Schiller, “But it’s never come true! It’s such a let-down! What we really want to do is just talk to our device!”

The technology for “Siri: the intelligent assistant to get things done just by asking”, was built out of Siri, an assistant app Apple purchased in 2010. The technology merges artificial intelligence with the iPhone.

During the iPhone 4S launch at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, Apple VP Scott Forstall demonstrated Siri’s ability to process language and respond accordingly.

A typical exchange is as follows:

Scott Forstall: “Find me a great Greek restaurant in Palo Alto.”
Siri on iPhone: “I’ve found five Greek restaurants, and I’ve sorted them by rating.”

Scott Forstall said that “I’ve been in the AI field a long time. This blows me away.”

Siri communicates like a human being would and not only understands what you say, but is smart enough to know what you mean. For example, Apple says that if you ask Siri: “Any good burger joints around here?” Siri will reply “I found a number of burger restaurants near you.”

Other Siri features include integration with Wikipedia and popular data engine Wolfram Alpha and Yelp to provide definitions and more.

Using Location Services, it looks up where you live, where you work, and where you are. Then it gives you information and the best options based on your current location.

“Compose and dictate email right to Siri,” said Forstall, demonstrating the new feautre. “Set timers. Look up contacts, create notes, search the web, search Wikipedia. It’s absolutely blow-away. Well, who is Siri? Just ask!”

Siri: “I am a humble personal assistant.”

Below is a video demonstration of Siri on the iPhone 4S:

Siri is also available in French and German.

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