Are There Open APIs Behind Apple's New Voice Commands?

Adam DuVander
Oct. 04 2011, 11:42AM EDT

Perhaps the biggest surprise in today's Apple announcements is that the voice command feature, widely anticipated since the largest mashup acquisition ever, is keeping the name "Siri." The newest version of Apple's iOS for iPhone and iPad will include the features of the voice command iPhone app that some called the "ultimate mashup."

Siri used over 35 APIs to find what its users were requesting, including one to translate speech to text. In April, 2010, Apple bought Siri before it could expand to Android. Over a year later, the app has been built into the next generation iPhone software, but are the APIs still there?

At some level, yes, though Apple may be using highly-tuned versions of the APIs. Examples from the keynote, extracted from Engadget's live coverage, included weather, stocks and restaurant reviews.

Back in June Xconomy suggested Apple go big with Siri and Nuance, the latter being the voice-to-text API used by the original Siri application. However, iDeviceNews noted job openings at Apple for “iOS Speech Operations Engineers.” According to Engadget's live coverage, the speech to text is still happening via an external service (off the phone), but that would be using an Apple service, as opposed to an open API.

After what feels like a long wait, it's good to see this technology make its way into Apple's core product. To get a feel for how the old Siri app worked, check out our demo video (embedded above).

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

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[...] app integration seems likely at some point—before it was bought by Apple, the old Siri app integrated with as many as 35 APIs, and developers apparently planned to expand that list. But it’s possible that Apple will use the [...]

[...] app integration seems likely at some point &#8212; before it was bought by Apple, the old Siri app integrated with as many as 35 APIs, and developers apparently planned to expand that list. But it&#8217;s possible that Apple will use [...]

[...] app integration seems likely at some point &#8212; before it was bought by Apple, the old Siri app integrated with as many as 35 APIs, and developers apparently planned to expand that list. But it&#8217;s possible that Apple will use [...]

[...] app integration seems likely at some point—before it was bought by Apple, the old Siri app integrated with as many as 35 APIs, and developers apparently planned to expand that list. But it’s possible that Apple will use the [...]

[...] app integration seems likely at some point—before it was bought by Apple, the old Siri app integrated with as many as 35 APIs, and developers apparently planned to expand that list. But it’s possible that Apple will use the [...]

[...] app integration seems likely at some point—before it was bought by Apple, the old Siri app integrated with as many as 35 APIs, and developers apparently planned to expand that list. But it’s possible that Apple will use the [...]

[...] app integration seems likely at some point&#8211;before it was bought by Apple, the old Siri app integrated with as many as 35 APIs, and developers apparently planned to expand that list. But it&#8217;s possible that Apple will use [...]

[...] that is more like the past, where phones are good at what phones have always been good at -- voice The current generation of smartphones is a bit of a kludge. They require a lot of text entry, but m...re like the past, where phones are good at what phones have always been good at -- voice [...]

<strong>Which topics on Quora are related to the technology behind Apple Siri?...</strong>

According to ProgrammableWeb, Apple Siri uses more than 35 APIs [1]. For instance, Siri accounts for about a quarter of the queries fielded by Wolfram|Alpha [2]. Originally, Siri was built on SRI CALO (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes) [3]...