Siri is an AI-driven virtual assistant that launched last October as an iPhone 4S exclusive, and it currently speaks English (United States, United Kingdom, and Australia), French, and German languages. The official Siri FAQ from the onset made it clear that in 2012: “Siri will support additional languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian, and Spanish.”
9to5Mac discovered job openings last December indicating possible Siri enhancements, including a prettier interface and a Siri API to extend the functionality to third-party iOS programs. We also uncovered this LinkedIn profile belonging to Apple’s language technologies engineer Chen Zhang that proves Apple’s been at work completing Siri support for the Chinese market. According to today’s article by Tech Asia, Mandarin-only support for the Chinese language could be released as early as next month…
The piece also stated that Apple would teach Siri to speak Japanese and Russian. Support for Chinese will be limited, at least initially, if the article is to be believed:
The rumor also contends that the Chinese version will only support the standard Mandarin (aka: putonghua) Chinese, which would leave out Cantonese-speaking people, as well as some Taiwan folk who effectively speak in a different dialect. Plus, it alleges that Japanese and Russian will arrive next month as well.
Although Siri retained its beta label, and it is well-known for occasionally taking extended coffee breaks, it has been popular with users. Apple’s marketing positions Siri as the differentiating feature of the iPhone 4S. According to the answer-engine Wolfram Alpha (a Siri content partner), Siri queries represent a quarter of all its queries.
- Four months in, Siri represents about a quarter of all Wolfram Alpha queries (9to5mac.com)
- iPhone 4S pre-orders sell out in Hong Kong in 10 minutes, supply elsewhere “still a gating factor” (9to5mac.com)