Siri + AI = More Human?

global_commApple’s world-famous tech conference WWDC wrapped up this week in San Jose, CA. As usual it was a total celebration of all things Apple and a look ahead to the future of the company’s plans and products. One item that caught our attention was an announcement related to Siri.

In case you’re not aware, Siri is Apple’s “intelligent voice assistant” – a built-in feature of most Apple products (since the iPhone 4S) that allows users to speak natural voice language commands to carry out tasks.  Of course, Siri is not the only kid on the block. There is great competition in this space among the industry’s major players, like Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. But back to Siri.

To maintain its status as a leader in this space, Apple announced that Siri is getting a clearer, more human voice – in both male and female intonations. There will also be some new “skills” added to make Siri even smarter. A key one – and the item that prompted this article – is the ability to use Siri for voice translations. As stated on Apple’s website, “Ask Siri in English how to say something in Chinese, Spanish, French, German, or Italian, and Siri will translate the phrase”.

All of this will be bundled as part of the new iOS 11, due out in Fall of 2017. Undoubtedly, additional languages will be added in future updates. As with all things in the world of machine translation, do not expect perfection or even close to 100% accuracy. The gist is that there will be certain times and places when this voice translation will be useful, and of course some opportunity for fun when using it.
Incidentally, in addition to the voice translation, iOS 11 promises to add advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Siri. According to Apple, this means Siri can “anticipate what you want and make suggestions before you even ask”. (Cue the Twilight Zone music.) Siri will also use what “she” learns about you to link to your news feed, making it more appropriate for you. Finally, encryption is also a key part of this update, to ensure peace of mind for your data privacy.

So, we will have even more reasons to ignore the people in our immediate vicinity and talk to our phones! “I mean, Siri really gets me, she knows me!” Okay so this is meant as a tongue-in-cheek view of how we adapt in today’s connected and ever-evolving AI-injected world.
Here at Foreign translations, we ALWAYS prefer speaking to people, and better yet, translating, so people of the world are connected – regardless of their native language!

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