iOS 5 is expected to have a new feature called Assistant, which was first revealed by 9to5Mac. Assistant is the evolution of Siri’s personal assistant technology, which uses artificial intelligence technology to change the way you interact with your iPhone.
Assistant uses voice recognition to detect natural vocal cues and commands, which opens up a lot of possibilities, including using natural-voice commands to perform tasks like scheduling an appointment, setting a reminder, and asking for directions. Assistant will integrate deeply with iOS and its included apps such as Maps, iMessage and iCal. which it can use to schedule appointments, control your iPhone, retrieve information, and more.
The system serves as an evolved form of Apple’s prior voice control, and adds a ton of new functionality. The Assistant function will work by holding the home button down for a couple of seconds, after which the interface will slide up from the bottom of the screen, covering the bottom 1/4th of your screen, and works even from the lock screen. What’s most awesome is that it allows you to speak in simple, natural phrases. In a recent interview with 9to5Mac, Siri Co-Founder Norman Winarsky even describes it as “groundbreaking”:
Make no mistake: Apple’s ‘mainstreaming’ Artificial Intelligence in the form of a Virtual Personal Assistant is a groundbreaking event. I’d go so far as to say it is a World-Changing event. Right now a few people dabble in partial AI enabled apps like Google Voice Actions, Vlingo or Nuance Go. Siri was many iterations ahead of these technologies, or at least it was two years ago. This is REAL AI with REAL market use. If the rumors are true, Apple will enable millions upon millions of people to interact with machines with natural language. The PAL will get things done and this is only the tip of the iceberg. We’re talking another technology revolution. A new computing paradigm shift.
MacRumors provides the following YouTube video showing how the new feature is likely to work: