Turn Your iPhone Into A Personal Assistant

Siri intends to turn an iPhone into a mobile assistant. The idea is that you will press a button and ask a question like “what are the good Italian restaurants in Chicago,” it translates the speech to text, sends the request to its servers, and displays the results on the iPhone. You can then take the next step of telling Siri to make a reservation at one of the restaurants.

While I was watching the demonstration of the application I paid particular attention to how a user had to ask questions. Other similar programs require one to ask questions in a particular format so that it can be properly interpreted, but it appears from the demo that Siri also does some processing to determine what it is you are trying to ask. You should be able to ask Siri the same question in multiple ways and get the same answer.

Another feature of Siri that I find impressive is its ability to understand context. In the demo you see a question being asked such as “what is going on in Detroit?” After the results display the next question is “Farmington Hills?” and Siri not only properly translates the speech but understands that what you are asking is “what is going on in Farmington Hills?”

You might be asking, how is this different than using Android’s voice input feature for Google Search, and in an interview done by Robert Scoble, the company’s founder explains how Siri will actually learn from the types of requests and over time provide better assistance.

The program is free and available for iPhone 3GS users, and an Android version is in development.