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

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).

Be sure to read the next Mobile article: The Private API Iceberg