Siri, the clever voice assistant on the iPhone4S may soon be expanding its capabilities, as there is currently buzz that it will be launched in Chinese in March. The Chinese technology site DoNews claims to have heard the news from an Apple (News - Alert) engineer who’s working on the Chinese-language version of Siri. Suri is reportedly already undergoing internal testing as we speak.
Mandarin-only support for the Chinese language could be released as early as next month, but Apple won’t be stopping there as the company has plans to also teach Siri several other languages.
Siri launched last October as an iPhone 4S exclusive and 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 would support additional languages including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian, Russian and Spanish.
9to5Mac.com 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. A LinkedIn profile belonging to Apple’s language technologies engineer Chen Zhang was uncovered proving that Apple’s been at work completing Siri support for the Chinese market.
The rumor also contends that the Chinese version will only support the standard Mandarin Chinese, which would leave out Cantonese-speaking people, as well as some Taiwanese who effectively speak in a different dialect.
In addition to understanding and speaking Chinese, Siri will soon also be able to give local information and navigation, something that is currently limited only to the U.S.
Although Siri has retained its beta label and is well-known for occasionally not working for an extended period of time, it has been extremely popular with users. Apple’s marketing positions Siri as the differentiating feature that allows the iPhone 4S to stand apart from previous iPhone versions.
Apple has said that Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian and Spanish support will come for Siri in 2012, so it is just a matter of when it’ll happen. The iPad is due for an enhancement soon, so that could be an opportunity for the tech giant to make an announcement that involves Siri learning some new Asian languages.
Edited by Jamie Epstein