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Apple’s Siri points to an exciting future

Ever since HAL refused to open the pod bay doors for Dave we’ve all wondered when we’d get to talk to our computers. Well now thanks to Apple and Siri we can and the results are very exciting. It is certainly more than enough to justify buying the new iPhone 4S if you are a techy.

Apple’s latest iPhone 4S includes an upgrade to IOS 5 that includes Siri – an electronic personal assistant built into the Operating System. Siri is seriously impressive technology and is able to recognise most voices without any training whatsoever – and it can pick up your voice in very difficult environments. It understands remarkably well what you mean when you phrase things in a range of different ways – so you don’t have to speak like a robot to get your message understood – regular speech and regular speeds are fine for Siri.

Once you’ve asked Siri to do something (and it’s pretty flexible) it consults with Apple’s servers to work out what you want to do. All this happens very quickly and remarkably reliably.

Siri also talks to you in a very acceptable computer voice – and provides a real benefit for mobile accessibility.

Here are a few of questions you can put to Siri right now…

  • Check out the weather where you are or where you are going to.
  • Find a good Italian restaurant near you (in the US only at the moment)
  • Send a text to your mom (and dictate the message)
  • Set a reminder for tomorrow afternoon to make a call
  • Play a song by the artists name
  • Check a stock price

and much more… If it can’t find the answer it will offer to search the web.

When you finish speaking, Siri displays the text of what you said and provides a response. If Siri needs more information to complete a request, it will ask you a question. For example, if you say “Remind me to call my mom,” Siri will ask “What time would you like me to remind you?”

The future for Siri is very exciting – as the database of questions that Apple will start to harvest will inevitably lead to great improvements. It won’t be long before Siri will offer a whole range of additional services – want to book a flight? Ask Siri to do it for you. Want to rent a car? Specify the type and kind and where you’ll be – then leave it to Siri. Paying a bill – talk to Siri. Want an analysis on your stock portfolio – why not ask Siri? Running a temperature with a pain in your left ear? Consult Siri.

Steve Jobs was a visionary without equal and the last product he got to see launched is – as ever – remarkable.

For more information on Siri visit the Apple site