Amid impossible expectations, recently appointed CEO Tim Cook took the stage this morning in Cupertino to kickoff Apple’s “Let’s talk phone” event. Was there an iPhone 5? Nope. The entire Internet collectively groans in disappointment. Ok, so it’s gonna be called the iPhone 4S, ok. What’s it look like? Exactly like the iPhone 4. This is almost as bad as when Apple first announced the iPad.
Throughout the event, the theme focused not on the hardware, but on the insides. You can read Techcrunch’s post about the technical specifications. Let’s focus on the software. Siri, in particular.
What is Siri exactly? It’s a personal assistant app that Apple bought for $200 million in 2010. In Scott Forstall’s own words, it’s “your intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.” Voice control technology has for years been a hit and miss. Most recently, IBM’s Watson debut on Jeopardy!, and ended up beating game-show god Ken Jennings.
Despite Watson’s success, natural language processing is still a very difficult field to tackle. Apple hopes that with Siri, it has finally got it right.
During the demo, Forstall demonstrated some of the things Siri is capable of doing including:
- Weather forecast in your area
- Setup an alarm clock
- Check the time in other countries
- Perform web searches on Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha
- Read your notifications to you
- Setup reminders for a future date/time
To cap things off, Forstall asked Siri one final question: “Who are you?” Siri replied back “I am a humble personal assistant.”
Once again, Siri is one of those things that sounds great if it works, but you can only confirm that by actually trying it out for yourself.
So far, details trickling out appears that Siri may only be exclusive to the iPhone 4S, primarily because it requires the phone’s new A5 chip to run. Siri is currently in beta and supports English, German, and French voice input. For the time being, I leave you with some lovely shots of Siri being demoed onstage, courtesy of Engadget.
Update: Watch the Apple event here.