updated 11:20 pm EDT, Fri July 22, 2011
iOS 5 to integrate Siri with crowd-sourcing
New discoveries may have confirmed Apple's exact plans for integrating Siri. One version of iOS 5, not necessarily the launch version, should weave the voice-guided recommendation app into the OS itself as the Assistant. The functionality 9to5 saw would be familiar to Siri but use the whole hardware and software: a request to get movie tickets with a friend would work off of the GPS location, the contact list, and web information.
Assistant would also include song names and could work with the phone locked.
The system would use secure, anonymized data but would even build itself over time. Much like the iTunes Genius, requests would be sent anonymously to Apple's servers to refine their accuracy based on what people search for and use. Nuance's integration will likely come through a more accurate voice recognition system to allow natural language.
When Assistant would arrive, and with what devices, wasn't known. Apple had only just entered testing for the feature; with likely less than two months left before a new iPhone, it may not make the initial 5.0 release. Apple might save the advanced system for the next-generation iPhone, although Siri ran properly on older iPhones before the acquisition. A chance also exists that Apple might scrap the feature if it doesn't pan out, although the cost of buying Siri might push it to justify the expense.
The details suggest Apple is at once trying to counter Google while offering a distinctive feature. Android 2.2 and beyond have touted deep, OS-wide voice commands as advantages. Assistant would partly fulfill that role but also go beyond it by completing tasks that still need separate app launches and multiple voice instructions on an Android phone.