iPhone

Video: iPhone's new Siri voice recognition in action

The Siri natural language voice recognition is arguably the most interesting new thing in the iPhone 4S. Take a look at two videos of how it works.

The most interesting new thing Apple unveiled on Tuesday at its 2011 iPhone event was Siri natural language voice recognition. This allows you to talk to your phone to do searches and voice-activated commands -- especially based on location information or related to communications apps. Siri can also talk back to you to give you the information you're asking for or to clarify a search. The whole thing looks like a decent step forward in artificial intelligence and natural language interaction, although we'll still need to see how frustrating it becomes for average users in the real world.

Apple bought Siri last April, when it was simply a mobile app available in the iOS App Store. Apple and the Siri team have taken the technology forward since then and it's interesting to note that Apple chose to keep the Siri name for the app and now spin it as Siri being the name of your new personal assistant.

Here are two videos of Siri in action so you can get a look at how this works. The first video shows clips about Siri from Apple's presentation on Tuesday and the second video shows my CNET colleagues actually giving it a spin in the demo room afterward.

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About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

8 comments
markavo
markavo

If someone get's a hold of your phone for just a second they could determine a ton of information just by talking to it... I wonder what the security implications of this are going to be moving forward.

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

This is going to be the Bluetooth earpiece all over again in the next couple of years. People will think it's a great idea for a while, until they start actively using it. They'll realize that either they look/feel stupid using it in public (there are very impolite names for people who walk around with BT earpieces now) or that the functionality, while cool, isn't all that useful in the end. After all, Android has had voice search capability since the Nexus One was the new hotness, and it does well with natural language recognition. On a whim, I tested it the other day by asking "What's the capital of Zaire?" and within a few seconds, the browser displayed the answer and showed me how many sources it had pulled the answer from. Same thing for measurement conversions. The problem is, there's no way to do that discreetly in a mixed-company environment and it's only marginally faster (if at all) than tapping the Google Search widget and typing the question. A good business calendar widget would probably outperform Siri, but it's not as gee-whiz cool. Also, I wonder how well Siri will do at distinguishing your voice in a noisy/chatty environment, and I really wonder how well it'll be heard by the user in the same type of environment. If you miss the reply because the office bro starts yammering about the big game last night, do you get to replay it or is it also displayed on screen?

mikroland2.0
mikroland2.0

They're whooping and hollering like this kind of thing didn't exist before.... Mango has had this for months now. Maybe not as robust but it's there.

JJFitz
JJFitz

1. Hands free operation. The ability to call Siri by speaking. Example "Hey Siri, tell me when I am free on Friday." 2 The ability to enter text into Siri. Let's face it, there are times when it would be inconvenient, rude, dorky, embarrassing etc.. to talk to your phone in public. Imagine typing "What time am I free on Thurday?" and having the application a) know that you are talking about next Thursday. b) understand that you are not looking for the first free slot (12:01 AM) c) ask you if you want to book a meeting for the time slot d) ask you who you want to invite to the meeting. Yes, you can go to your calendar and hunt and peck but typing out a sentence is much more natural. That would be revolutionary. .

somethinggood4
somethinggood4

I'm not usually an Apple guy - I've been trying to figure out a way to outfit the office with 3G Android tablets for the last two weeks. But this is awesome. This could make me a better employee. If this works as easily as the demo (pipe dream, I know) it could be the best thing to happen to my career since I started at this job two years ago.

somethinggood4
somethinggood4

I work in a (usually) quiet office, but every now and then, everything hits the fan at once. I'm on the phone, I'm writing an email, trying to add customer bills in the accounting software, and then the call waiting beeps and I'm on another call. When I go back to the first call, that second call is gone from my mind in about two seconds flat. There are times I'll find my browser window open to my home page, and I have to think for a full minute before I remember whether I was going to write an email, Google a supplier for a phone number, look up a client postal code or check the boss' calendar for a free date next week. If I could take two seconds in say to Siri "Remind me to email Bob before I leave", and have it actually remind me at 4:30, "Hey you were supposed to send an email to Bob", that would be HUGE. I have pages and pages of notes that are cryptic to me now - vague half-phrases and meaningless abbreviations. If I could TALK to my to-do list? THAT'S magic.

Shaps816
Shaps816

Yer nuts. Mango doesnt come close to this. And its the integration (robustness) that's the key.

markavo
markavo

Give mango a try. I talk to my phone all day dictating text messages to my phone in my pocket as it reads them back to me. I can search for restaurants through Bing and find just about anything. Siri is much better at total integration: calendar, tasks, email And, Siri is better at recognizing what you want without having to use "command" words before getting what you want: "search for, Send text, Call etc". Siri uses real language and that's what's amazing. Apple was brilliant for buying this company up but they're even smarter for doing what Microsoft did and that's taking "apps" and move them into the OS itself. Having to use an app to post to Facebook or do a barcode/Google Goggles kind of search is annoying. Siri solves that problem for iOS like "live tiles" does for Microsoft.