Apple Eyes Using Siri To Answer Calls, Transcribe Voicemails
Because people like leaving voicemails but don't like listening to them, Apple is reportedly looking at using its digital personal assistant Siri to provide voice-to-text service via iCloud Voicemail. The service could launch sometime in 2016.
Siri, which made its debut with the iPhone 4S in 2011, is an intelligent assistant technology that lets users ask questions and give voice commands to their iOS devices. Other such assistants include Microsoft's Cortana and Google's Google Now.
The company's employees have apparently been testing "a new kind of voicemail service," Business Insider reported today, citing sources knowledgeable about Apple's Siri developments. The service would allow users to direct incoming calls to Siri instead of their regular iCloud Voicemail services; Siri would then answer the calls, transcribe the callers' messages and text the resulting messages to the users.
Text 'More Convenient'
It seems that 62 percent of people would prefer a voice-to-text messaging system over traditional voicemail, according to a 2014 survey sponsored by the speech software firm Nuance Communications. The survey also found that 85 percent of respondents said text messages were more convenient than voicemails.
People generally consider voicemails to be a more personal way to leave messages for others -- especially family members -- they are trying to call. However, the Nuance survey found that 80 percent of people are more likely to use voicemail over text messaging for sharing bad news. In fact, 23 percent of those surveyed said they worry when they receive voicemails indicating that something is wrong.
Text messages, on the other hand, are preferred by 66 percent of respondents when it comes to sharing good news. A small percentage -- 13 percent -- told Nuance they were already using voice-to-text services and "wouldn't have it any other way."
Younger users, in particular, prefer texting over voice services on their mobile devices. A 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, for example, found that voice calls among teens is declining, with 25 percent saying "they cannot or do not ever talk on a cell phone."
More 'Proactive' Siri Coming Soon
Apple expects to introduce new capabilities for Siri when it rolls out its iOS 9 mobile operating system this fall. The update is currently available to Apple developers and the public in beta form.
Siri will feature an "all-new design" in iOS 9, as well as more contextual and proactive capabilities, according to Apple. For example, it will be able to suggest actions to users before they start typing queries, "automatically suggesting apps to launch or people to contact based on usage patterns, and notifying you when you need to leave for appointments, taking into account traffic conditions."
Siri's voicemail-to-text service would likely launch when Apple rolls out iOS 10, according to the Business Insider report.
Posted: 2015-08-03 @ 12:52pm PT
Already available from various providers, so Siri comes late.