Siri facts for kids

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Siri
AppleSiriIcon2017.png
Siri on iOS.png
Siri dictates the next game for the Seattle Seahawks, upon the user's request, on an iPhone SE running iOS 11
Developer(s) Apple
Initial release October 12, 2011; 8 years ago (2011-10-12)
Operating system iOS 5 onward, macOS Sierra onward, tvOS (all versions), watchOS (all versions), iPadOS
Platform
Available in
Type Intelligent personal assistant

Siri (pronounced /ˈsɪri/, SI-rie) is a virtual assistant that is part of Apple Inc.'s iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, macOS, and tvOS operating systems. The assistant uses voice queries and a natural-language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of Internet services. The software adapts to users' individual language usages, searches, and preferences, with continuing use. Returned results are individualized.

Siri is a spin-off from a project originally developed by the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center. Its speech recognition engine was provided by Nuance Communications, and Siri uses advanced machine learning technologies to function. Its original American, British, and Australian voice actors recorded their respective voices around 2005, unaware of the recordings' eventual usage in Siri. The voice assistant was released as an app for iOS in February 2010, and it was acquired by Apple two months later. Siri was then integrated into iPhone 4S at its release in October 2011. At that time, the separate app was also removed from the iOS App Store. Siri has since become an integral part of Apple's products, having been adapted into other hardware devices over the years, including newer iPhone models, as well as iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, AirPods, Apple TV, and HomePod.

Siri supports a wide range of user commands, including performing phone actions, checking basic information, scheduling events and reminders, handling device settings, searching the Internet, navigating areas, finding information on entertainment, and is able to engage with iOS-integrated apps. With the release of iOS 10 in 2016, Apple opened up limited third-party access to Siri, including third-party messaging apps, as well as payments, ride-sharing, and Internet calling apps. With the release of iOS 11, Apple updated Siri's voices for more clear, human voices, started supporting follow-up questions and language translation, and additional third-party actions.

Siri's original release on iPhone 4S in 2011 received mixed reviews. It received praise for its voice recognition and contextual knowledge of user information, including calendar appointments, but was criticized for requiring stiff user commands and having a lack of flexibility. It was also criticized for lacking information on certain nearby places, and for its inability to understand certain English accents. In 2016 and 2017, a number of media reports have indicated that Siri is lacking in innovation, particularly against new competing voice assistants from other technology companies. The reports concerned Siri's limited set of features, "bad" voice recognition, and undeveloped service integrations as causing trouble for Apple in the field of artificial intelligence and cloud-based services; the basis for the complaints reportedly due to stifled development, as caused by Apple's prioritization of user privacy and executive power struggles within the company.

Development

Siri is a spin-out from the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center, and is an offshoot of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA)-funded CALO project. It was co-founded by Dag Kittlaus, Tom Gruber, and UCLA alumnus Adam Cheyer. Kittlaus named Siri after a co-worker in Norway, and it means "beautiful woman who leads you to victory" in Norwegian.

Siri's speech recognition engine was provided by Nuance Communications, a speech technology company. This was acknowledged by neither Apple nor Nuance for years, until Nuance CEO Paul Ricci confirmed the information at a 2011 technology conference. The speech recognition system makes use of sophisticated machine learning techniques, including convolutional neural networks and long short-term memory.

The initial Siri prototype was implemented using the Active platform, a joint project between the Artificial Intelligence Center of SRI International and the Vrai Group at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. The Active platform was the focus of a PhD thesis led by Didier Guzzoni, who joined Siri as its chief scientist.

Siri was acquired by Apple Inc. in April 2010 under the direction of Steve Jobs. Apple's first notion of a digital personal assistant was originally a concept video in 1987, called the Knowledge Navigator.

Voices

The original American voice of Siri was provided in July 2005 by Susan Bennett, unaware that it would eventually be used for the voice assistant. A report from The Verge in September 2013 about voice actors, their work, and machine learning developments, made hints that Allison Dufty was the voice behind Siri, though this was disproven when Dufty wrote on her website that she was "absolutely, positively not the voice of Siri." Citing growing pressure, Bennett revealed her role as Siri in October, and her claim was proven by Ed Primeau, an American audio forensics expert. Apple has never confirmed the information.

The original British male voice was provided by Jon Briggs, a former technology journalist. Having discovered that he was the voice of Siri by watching television, he first spoke only about his role in November 2011, also acknowledging his voice work was done "five or six years ago" without knowing the recordings' final usage form.

The original Australian voice was provided by Karen Jacobsen, a voice-over artist known in Australia for her work as the GPS girl.

As part of an interview between all three voice actors and The Guardian, Briggs stated that "the original system was recorded for a US company called Scansoft, who were then bought by Nuance. Apple simply licensed it."

With iOS 11, Apple auditioned hundreds of candidates to find a new female voices, then recorded hours of speech, including different personalities and expressions, and built a new text-to-speech voice based on deep learning technology.

Integration

Siri was originally released as a stand-alone application for the iOS operating system in February 2010, and at the time, the developers were also intending to release Siri for Android and BlackBerry devices. Two months later, Apple acquired Siri. On October 4, 2011, Apple introduced the iPhone 4S with a beta version of Siri. After the announcement, Apple removed the existing standalone Siri app from App Store. TechCrunch wrote that, despite the Siri app's support for iPhone 4, its removal from App Store might also have had a financial aspect for the company, in providing an incentive for customers to upgrade devices. Third-party developer Steven Troughton-Smith, along with 13-year-old Zak Shafi (@zshafi), however, managed to port Siri to iPhone 4, though without being able to communicate with Apple's servers. A few days later, Shafi and Troughton-Smith, working with an anonymous person nicknamed "Chpwn", managed to fully hack Siri, enabling its full functionalities on iPhone 4 and iPod Touch devices. Shafi split from the group, founding SimplySiri with other developers to provide public access to the new founded exploit. Additionally, developers were also able to successfully create and distribute legal ports of Siri to any device capable of running iOS 5, though a proxy server was required for Apple server interaction.

Apple tv gen 4 remote
Siri Remote

Over the years, Apple has expanded the line of officially supported products, including newer iPhone models, as well as iPad support in June 2012, iPod Touch support in September 2012, Apple TV support, and the stand-alone Siri Remote, in September 2015, Mac and AirPods support in September 2016, and HomePod support in February 2018.

Venture capital firm Mangrove Capital Partners predicted that Apple will launch a SiriOS at its developer conference in 2020 to further grow the Siri ecosystem. SiriOS could rival something like Amazon's Alexa Skills platform, which makes it easy for developers to implement Alexa functionality. Apple currently offers SiriKit to developers, but one possibility is that a SiriOS could work across iOS, iPadOS, and macOS with ease.

Features and options

Apple offers a wide range of voice commands to interact with Siri, including, but not limited to:

  • Phone and Text actions, such as "Call Sarah", "Read my new messages", "Set the timer for 10 minutes", and "Send email to mom"
  • Check basic information, including "What's the weather like today?" and "How many dollars are in a Euro?"
  • Schedule events and reminders, including "Schedule a meeting" and "Remind me to"
  • Handle device settings, such as "Take a picture", "Turn off Wi-Fi", and "Increase the brightness"
  • Search the Internet, including "Define...", "Find pictures of...", and "Search Twitter for..."
  • Navigation, including "Take me home", "What's traffic like on the way home?", and "Find driving directions to..."
  • Translate words and phrases from English to a few languages, such as "How do I say where is the nearest hotel in French"
  • Entertainment, such as "What basketball games are on today?", "What are some movies playing near me?", and "What's the synopsis of...?"
  • Engage with iOS-integrated apps, including "Pause Apple Music" and "Like this song"
  • Handle payments through Apple Pay, such as "Apple Pay 25 dollars to Mike for concert tickets" or "Send 41 dollars to Ivana."

Siri also offers numerous pre-programmed responses to amusing questions. Such questions include "What is the meaning of life?" to which Siri may reply "All evidence to date suggests it's chocolate"; "Why am I here?", to which it may reply "I don't know. Frankly, I've wondered that myself"; and "Will you marry me?", to which it may respond with "My End User Licensing Agreement does not cover marriage. My apologies."

Initially limited to female voices, Apple announced in June 2013 that Siri would feature a gender option, adding a male voice counterpart.

In September 2014, Apple added the ability for users to speak "Hey Siri" to enable the assistant without the requirement of physically handling the device.

In September 2015, the "Hey Siri" feature was updated to include individualized voice recognition, a presumed effort to prevent non-owner activation.

With the announcement of iOS 10 in June 2016, Apple opened up limited third-party developer access to Siri through a dedicated application programming interface (API). The API restricts usage of Siri to engaging with third-party messaging apps, payment apps, ride-sharing apps, and Internet calling apps.

In iOS 11, Siri is able to handle follow-up questions, supports language translation, and opens up to more third-party actions, including task management. Additionally, users are able to type to Siri, and a new, privacy-minded "on-device learning" technique improves Siri's suggestions by privately analyzing personal usage of different iOS applications.

Feature film debut

Siri provided the voice of 'Puter in The Lego Batman Movie.


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