Siri adds another dimension to iPhone accessibility

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Wednesday, 5 October 2011 13:28pm

Apple has released a new version of iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, with enhanced accessibility features. Perhaps the most important is a new voice recognition program, allowing users to perform a wide variety of tasks hands and eyes free.

Marketed as a personal assistant in your phone, Siri responds to vocal commands such as questions with information. For instance, the question “what’s the weather like in San Francisco today?” will trigger the phone to respond audibly with weather information. The Apple website states that “It does what you say and finds the information you need. And then it hits you. You’re actually having a conversation with your iPhone.”

Apple claims that the program interprets language, allowing the user to speak to the phone in a conversational way. “Siri not only understands what you say, it’s smart enough to know what you mean. So when you ask “Any good burger joints around here?” Siri will reply “I found a number of burger restaurants near you.”

Siri is currently in beta phase and user testing will determine the accuracy of the notoriously problematic voice recognition software and the breakthrough interpretation system. The launch demonstration video released by Apple overnight features a blind user, indicating that accessibility is at the heart of the new feature’s development. Although the iPhone’s touchscreen keyboard is already accessible via VoiceOver, performing tasks using Siri may prove quicker and easier for all.


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