iOS 8: Apple Bought the Key to a Better Siri
With the iOS 8 release this fall Apple may be prepared to deliver a vastly improved series experience on the iPhone and iPad.
A new report shows that Apple recently purchased a speech recognition company, and the founders and speech recognition experts are now working for Apple.
iOS 8 is an updated version of the software that runs on the current iPhone, and rumors suggest that Apple will improve the sluggish and sometimes not accurate Siri personal assistant with this update.
We heard many rumors that Apple would dramatically improve Siri with iOS 7 last year, but Apple did not implement one of the biggest features that many users wanted. Currently when a user activates Siri they need a good Internet connection in order for the action or for dictation to work. One rumor suggested that Apple would localize parts of Siri to the iPhone, similar to how Google Now and Google voice dictation work.
While using iOS 7.1 or iOS 7, users are not able to count on Siri working for such simple actions as calling a contact, making a reminder, or even opening an app. We expect to see a new version of Apple’s iPhone software, called iOS 8 for now, in June where we could see the fruits of this purchase come to phones for the first time.
Techcrunch reports that Apple bought Novauris last year for an undisclosed sum. Yoon Kim, and other voice recognition experts are currently working with Apple.
Apple is not discussing the specifics of this deal, or plans for a better Siri based on this new purchase. That doesn’t mean there aren’t hints at what Apple could do with this company in iOS 8 to deliver a better Siri experience for all users.
One of the products from Novauris is a tool called NovaSearch. This voice recognition technology is capable of identifying phrases, instead of words. In use, this means that even if one word is not recognized or if grammar is out of place the voice technology is able to place the entire phrase and match it against a huge database of phrases. This may allow Apple to make Siri better in key areas.
While using Siri, or voice dictation in iOS 7 one problem is that if the iPhone misses one word it can completely throw off the entire dictation or request to Siri. By paying attention to the entire phrase, and matching a phrase that is spoken instead of looking at each individual word, this purchase could help Apple deliver a better Siri experience and more accurate voice dictation in iOS 8.
One problem with using voice dictation, is that sometimes users will get ahead of themselves and then try to fix a statement later on. This could be something as simple as forgetting to add Dr. to the front of the name or speaking of full name out of order. According to information provided by Novauris, one of the strengths of no research is its ability to determine when something is spoken out of context and place it in the proper order as in the example above.
Siri is pretty good at recognizing what user wants to do even if they don’t speak the exact command that Apple has in mind to complete. With this acquisition we may see even better control given the variety of ways that users can ask for one specific action. For example, the company claims NovaSearch is able to understand that “Get me a coffee, Please get me a coffee, I need a cup of coffee, A coffee please, Fetch me a cup of coffee, Can I have a coffee..” are all asking for the same end result. This could come in handy with a rumored Siri feature that would connect the voice control service with other apps.
While it is not guaranteed, a product that used this technology back in 2011 was able to perform the speech recognition on the smart phone or on the phone itself instead of relying on an Internet connection and the cloud. One rumor from 2013 stated that Apple was looking to store some of the voice recognition technology on the phone so that users did not run into areas where Siri could not complete an action for something so simple as adding a calendar entry.
Read: 41 Siri Tips & Tricks
Apple is not discussing its plans for this company or the new voice recognition technology, but also are good that Apple is planning to use some of this new technology and the talent from the company founders to deliver a better version of Siri in iOS 8.
Apple just announced WWDC 2014, where the company will very likely show off iOS 8. For the past several years Apple has used this summer event to showcase new features for the iPhone and iPad, which will come to users later in the fall. Apple typically releases the new version of iOS several days before a new iPhone arrives, and rumors currently point to the iPhone 6 release date coming in September or sometime this fall.