Next iOS Could Feature A Transcribing Siri

Posted by Kirhat | Thursday, August 06, 2015 | | 0 comments »

Everyone who is familiar with Apple will agree that Siri is one capable assistant. However, there is one secretarial task it can't perform yet: transcribing voicemail messages.

Given the recent development, Siri's limitations may soon be addressed. Apple was reportedly preparing to beef up Siri’s clerical capabilities with an answering system that intercepts, listens to, and converts spoken words into text.

According to Kyle Wiggers of Business Insider, the new service carries the iCloud brand and is not dissimilar to Google Voice’s speech-to-text feature. Incoming calls that roll over to voicemail are "answered" by Siri, which relays information to the caller about the user's location and why they were not available to answer the phone. The content of recorded messages are then (presumably) sent to Apple's servers, converted, and sent to the recipient as text.

It is very much in its early days, apparently. Apple employees have been testing Siri-powered transcription for the past several weeks in preparation for a "2016" launch, reports Business Insider, potentially as part of the next major iOS release.

Voicemail conversion services aren’t new — Google Voice launched with transcription in 2009 — but accuracy has long been their Achilles heel. Poor call quality and flaky language processing have often led to garbled transcriptions. Services now seem to be making tangible strides, however, and last month, Google announced that it managed to cut Voice’s conversion inaccuracies by 49 percent.

It's unclear if Apple’s transcription service will match the reliability of systems like that of the new Google Voice, which relies in part on machine learning. But the Cupertino-based company, no doubt eager to avoid the fickleness of early Siri iterations, is focusing like a laser on "reliability," according to Business Insider.

Apple has not neglected Siri in the meantime, though. In iOS 9, the digital assistant can show contextual reminders in Safari, Notes, and Mail, provide transit directions, perform math equations and unit conversions, and surface photos from specific places. The new features will roll out alongside the stable release of iOS 9 this fall.


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