Apple Introduces Siri, an Advanced Voice Recognition System

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They’ve revolutionized the way we listen to music. They’ve changed how we think of notebook computers and tablets. And now, the team at Apple may finally have solved voice recognition.

At Tuesday’s keynote address Apple senior executive Phil Schiller introduced the world to Siri, available on the new iPhone 4S. “For decades, technologists have teased us with this dream that you’ll be able to talk to technology and it’ll do things for us. But it never comes true,” he said. “What we really want to do is talk to our device.”

Another senior vice president, Scott Forstall, gave a demonstration for an idea that has existed for decades – according to a late 1980s commercial that has surfaced. “What is the weather like today,” he asked Siri. The iPhone responded by bringing up the weather. He also said the phone understands the question in context, not looking just for keywords. “Do I need a raincoat today,” brings up the same response. “The exact words I say aren’t important,” Forstall said.

Siri is useful for checking stocks, setting alarms, web searches, and retrieving definitions using a dictionary. Schiller and Forstall said the phone is also good for dictation. In fact, any app with a keyboard can use input from Siri. Siri can even be used in a hands-free environment. Users can listen and respond to text messages they receive while driving. The app is in beta mode and its languages are English, French, and German. Schiller said as Apple progresses, Siri will understand more languages.

Forstall also introduced Cards, a free new app that lets users create and mail cards directly from their iPhones or iPod Touch devices. At launch, Cards will have 21 different designs in six categories. Users can customize cards with photos and text, and mail them anywhere in the world. Apple takes care of printing the card, sealing it in an envelope, and covers postage. If mailed in the U.S., Apple adds a barcode that will notify the card’s sender the card has reached its destination. Apple is charging $2.99 for a card mailed anywhere in the U.S., and $4.99 for a card mailed anywhere in the world. Cards is available October 12.

The iPhone 4S, available in the U.S. on Oct. 14, also has a new chip that is twice as fast as the iPhone 4, the same chip contained in the iPad 2. The A5 chip is up to seven times faster than the previous version, and Mike Capps, president of Epic Games, showed a demo of Infinity Blade 2 being run on the device. Epic’s Tim Sweeney, of course, was about 5 hours south presenting the Unreal engine being run in Adobe Flash Player 11 at Adobe MAX.

The rest of the time served as an overview of iOS5 announcements, most of which have been public knowledge on Apple’s site for awhile.

So, what are your thoughts on this address? Are you excited about the new iPhone and iOS? Did Tim Cook live up to Steve Jobs? Share your reactions to Cards, Siri, and more.

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Adam Bockler is the communications manager for Float, responsible for all of Float's marketing initiatives. In addition, Adam is a certified DDP Yoga Level 1 instructor, a certified personal trainer, a martial arts instructor, and a graduate of the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy.

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On October 5, 2011
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