Improvements to Apple's Siri Are on the Way

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) Siri voice interface has struggled to win fans since its introduction. Now, the Mac maker is taking steps to the fix the system, Fool contributor Tim Beyers says in the following video.  

Last week the company acquired Novauris Technologies of the U.K. to improve the technology behind Siri. Financial terms weren't disclosed, though history says it likely wasn't a big cost. Apple tends to buy expertise and then use the talent to create entirely new revenue streams.

In this case, Apple is getting Novauris co-founders Melvyn Hunt and John Bridle, who in 1992 founded Dragon Systems' U.K. research and development subsidiary. Today, the Dragon speech engine is the foundation of Nuance Communications' dictation products.

Can Novauris help Apple's Siri? The technology certainly looks interesting, Tim says. Rather than focus on words or sequences of words, Novauris says its "NovaSearch" engine is designed to recognize entire phrases and then compare its findings against some 245 million known items.

That's a potentially significant advantage, and it comes at an interesting time. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) recently introduced its Cortana voice assistant for Windows phone, while Google has made its own "Google Now" voice-activated search system standard on Android phones and an option for iOS devices.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. How do you see Apple's Siri faring in this increasingly competitive market? Please watch the video to get the full story, and then leave a comment to let us know what you think, including whether you would buy, sell, or short Apple stock at current prices.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2014, at 9:08 PM, twolf2919 wrote:

    If you're just going to regurgitate last week's news, at least get the facts straight - Apple acquired Novauris last year.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2014, at 9:21 PM, MartinMTurner wrote:

    I was surprised to read that Siri is struggling to win fans. When I checked the linked article, it turns out that it's just the author's wife and Steve Wozniak who are verified as non-fans. I am sure that there are others, but these two data points are the only one the article cites. Wozniak, of course, is forever criticising Apple, except for the times that he says it's brilliant. That's Woz for you: he's like that.

    My experience has been that Siri has transformed my iPhone use. It is vastly more convenient to ask for a name than to scroll through my hundreds of contacts. The downside is that, when there's no 3G or wifi, it doesn't work.

    I would be interested to see any actual data about Siri take-up.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2014, at 9:48 PM, twolf2919 wrote:

    @MartinMTurner, I, too, would like to see statistics that support the author's claim that Siri is "struggling to win fans". Like you, Siri has become an indispensable part of my iPhone use - especially during my commute. I send messages using Siri. I ask her to make phone calls and to tell me the traffic. Heck, I even let her give me stock quotes - all, without me taking my hands off the steering wheel (well, except to wake Siri with a long home button or headphone button push!)

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2014, at 4:08 AM, alphapro wrote:

    I agree on both of the above points. This article seems a bit lazy on research and facts, as the purchase was more like six months ago, rather than last week as stated. Also agree on the nebulous nature of the idea that Siri is floundering for fans. I use Siri daily, and phone life has become much easier and more pleasant due to the feature. I expect and look forward to enhancements, but I and most everyone I have discussed the feature with seem to like it now. However, what I find to be MUCH more annoying than missing the purchase date, and pooing Siri is the incredible volume of grammar abuse in this article. Half way through I started screaming at the video, and had to go back and watch it again. In a three minute video, which I would hope the writer cared enough to have scripted before inflicting on us, there are sixteen " you knows". And like, you know it is really like hard, you know to take someone seriously, you know that like does that like you know ALL the freaking time. You know like what I mean? I just paid $250.00 to MF for a subscription to Rule breakers, and like you know I am having like you know second thoughts.

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