WWDC: Updated Siri coming to cars & new iPad

Lex Friedman
12 June, 2012
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Apple had plenty to say about Siri, its voice-driven personal assistant, during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote this morning.

Siri will have a starring role in iOS 6, the next version of the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. And it’s moving beyond just the iPhone 4S to the latest version of Apple’s iPad.

Though Siri only arrived eight months ago with the iPhone 4S, senior vice president for iOS software Scott Forstall said the feature was already quite accomplished.

In iOS 6, though, Siri is significantly enhanced. For one, it knows more about sports – at least in the United States, as we saw in the on-stage demo.

You can ask baseball questions like “What was the score in the last Giants game?”, “What is Buster Posey’s batting average?” or “What are the National League standings?”

Siri knows basketball too, Forstall explained. He asked Siri “Who is taller, LeBron or Kobe?” And Siri knows about the NFL, as well; during his demo at WWDC, Forstall asked Siri, “When is the San Francisco 49ers first game of the season?” and got an answer. Other sports Siri will support include hockey and soccer.

It’s unknown at this stage whether Siri will also support more localised sports, such as Australian Rules football.

Siri also knows a lot more about restaurants, Forstall said. It now includes more details when you look for eateries – results are sorted by rating, include average meal prices and restaurant styles, hours, reservations (via Open Table), integrated Yelp reviews and more.

“Siri’s become something of a movie buff,” Forstall added. “What movies are playing at the Metreon?” he asked; Siri responded with a list of which films were showing at the San Francisco cineplex, with ratings, reviews and integrated trailers from Rotten Tomatoes – all accessible from directly within Siri.

And you can ask Siri questions about directors or actors, such as “Show me movies starring Scarlett Johansson.” That searches current movies and catalogue titles, too.

And Siri on iOS 6 can launch apps. Forstall demonstrated by launching Temple Run with a voice command. You can also tweet by talking to Siri, he said.

Forstall also mentioned a new feature called Eyes Free. He said Apple is working together with car manufacturers to integrate a button for triggering Siri from your steering wheel; among the companies looking to integrate that feature in the next 12 months are GM, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audio, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda.

Siri’s also getting more international, with support for Canadian French and English; Italian; Spanish (for Spain, Mexico and the US); Swiss Italian, French and German; Mandarin for Taiwan; Cantonese for Hong Kong; and Mandarin and Cantonese for mainland China.

And soon another iOS device will find its voice, too: Forstall said the third-generation iPad will get Siri support as well.

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