updated 01:25 am EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
Nine new languages to be supported, emphasis on developing markets
Recently-posted jobs on Apple's website point to the company working on expanding the number of native languages Siri understands, with a particular accent on countries and regions that represent developing markets for Apple. The company is looking to hire "language engineers" who are fluent in Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, and the languages of northern Europe -- Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. Apple is also planning to beef up Siri support for Japanese, Cantonese, Australian and British English.
Candidates must not only be fluent in the listed languages, but must be native speakers who are familiar with colloqualisms and lingo that local speakers would use when talking to Siri, reports AppleInsider. It may also point to a plan to have Siri reply in more locally-used phrases as well, leveraging location services in a possible new way. The job listings, posted over the past two weeks, ask candidates to have strong software-development skills with an emphasis on speech recognition, natural language processing, speech synthesis and AI.
The Siri virtual assistant, like Apple's Maps program, is continually and silently improved -- and is expected to get a boost from the recently-introduced HomeKit and HealthKit APIs revealed at the Worldwide Developer's Conference earlier this month. The nine new languages, along with the already-supported ones, are expected to gain health and home awareness in order to manage the applications that the new APIs will help create. Apple said that Siri will even be able to execute multiple steps with a single command, for example "lock up the house" could lock doors, set burglar alarms, power-down home electronics, power-up a pet webcam, and adjust the climate control in the home.