The new iOS 11 was released in September. Its users mainly waited for an update of the control panel, some new functions for iPad, pictures and AppStore general design update.
But Apple is inspired with Siri update everyone was heading to since the purchase of the application in 2010. Siri update is an improved assistant’s voice, less robotic and closer to a human voice.
Who created Siri
Siri is being developed for almost 10 years. Everything started in December 2007 when a big project of the International center for artificial intelligence SRI was approved by DAPRA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) . Everything is very serious, indeed. The Center of the artificial intelligence was developing for over 40 years different projects of assistants with the artificial intelligence which will be able to help users organize the processes.
Menlo Ventures and Morgenthaler Ventures got interested in the project in 2008. They have financed the group of Siri developers (Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Tom Gruber) for 8,5 million dollars. Shortly afterwards they developed Siri application. Apple purchased it in 2010. After that Siri was integrated in all iOS and MacOS products. Siri was fully integrated into Apple software. Apple expected it to become an irreplaceable assistant.
Siri learns to talk
The main idea of the doctor Alex Asero, the chief developer of the Siri voice function was creating a speech most similar to the human speech. With all the breaks, that we make as we talk, intonations, with the same speed and with no metal sound.
The idea of such voice was following Asero many years, but it was finally set in his mind after he watched the movie “She”. Yes, exactly the movie where the character of Joaquín Phoenix falls in love with his voice assistant, the artificial intelligence. Asero has not be thinking for a long, why it was so easy to fall in love with a voice of the artificial intelligence. And of course the reason was not that fabulous Scarlett Johansson gave her voice for this character but because it sounded like a normal human speech. Ok, it is very easy to make it in a movie, because the artificial intelligence is sounded by a human. But it is not possible to have an actress sound all the millions of possible answers to users questions. It should be updated everyday then. And also in more than 20 languages!..
But initially it was made like this. Susan Bennett, an american voice-over artist, was the voice of the first version of Siri. She came, sat down in a completely soundproof room and traduced many seemingly disparate phrases could be later synthesized in a voice.
Siri learns to hear
Being a user’s assistant Siri shall not only talk but also understand what others say. Here is how Siri is being taught a new language: people from different parts of the country are invited to come and talk, read books, news and Siri learns in that way to differentiate and understand several dialects.
Any language has its own complications. These are the differences in pronunciation and writing rules, silent letters, double vowels and consonants… That’s why Siri’s code is being constantly improved, the developers always try to increase its capacity and adequacy of responses to our enquires.
Siri also learns while it is talking to you. The more often we contact it, the better it understands us. The users’ communication with Siri is stored at the Apple servers (as they said anonymously) in order to better understand the enquires of users and to come up with better answers and solutions and so on.
At the same time the developers are looking for a new perfect voice for Siri. Tens of thousands of talented artists are being audited. As Dr. Asero says, there are thousands of beautiful voices in the world but they might not suit for machine speech.
Now Siri speaks 21 languages is localized for 36 countries, over 375 million people use it every day. The numbers are impressive, but Siri still has some shortcuts.
Siri puts a lot of efforts
As noted by Apple team, the major issue now is that users forget about Siri. People get used to search for information on the internet, to check whether the alarm is switched on, to open applications, and all these by themselves. And the assistant is bored alone.
One of the reasons is that Siri’s internal structure is closed to external developers. Apple was hiding the princess for a long time and refused to gain access to Siri so she could work with the products of external developers. But the need for integration is obvious and now Siri is working with several applications.
People also don’t use Siri simply because they have no idea about her features. So Apple has a big work ahead to teach users how to run Siri. And maybe also to add some useful functions. It is not a bad idea, right?
Until then we continue to communicate with Siri and check whether she is clever enough to answer our questions. In one of his interviews Greg Joswiak, the vice-president of Apple, resented: “Apple wanted Siri to be a get-shit-done machine. We didn’t engineer this thing to be Trivial Pursuit!!”
Joswiak still tries to make Siri useful, so in his new project called HomePod it will be a household assistant. But the most attention is given to the music search and recognition function. Finally it is a smart speaker and it’s designed for music.
Siri has to learn a lot. She cannot do everything right now. We can even say, she cannot do a lot. But Apple got used to work slowly in order to achieve more. Do you have an updated version of iOS? Then ask Siri, how she is doing!