Compared to rival digital assistants like Google Now and Cortana, Apple’s Siri can often seem like it’s stuck in the past. While Apple has added some nifty functionality to Siri since it was first introduced with iOS 5 in 2011, Siri will get a significant “intelligence” overhaul this fall with iOS 9, and will become more proactive it helping you navigate your daily life.
However, one new Siri feature is a little bit further away, and again shows Apple playing catchup in certain aspects to the likes of Google. The new functionality is called iCloud Voicemail and taps into Siri’s already robust voice recognition services to transcribe incoming voicemails. Whereas Siri right now sends rather mundane voice requests -- like sports scores and weather data -- to Apple’s secure servers, iCloud Voicemail would instead send the entire contents of a voicemail the cloud to read back to you at a later time.
In a way, this is very similar to the transcription services offered by Google Voice. However, Google Voice’s transcription capabilities have been rather inept in years past and Google recently took steps to reduce errors by 50 percent “using a long short-term memory deep recurrent neural network.”
If and when Apple does release iCloud Voicemail, we have the feeling that Apple CEO Tim Cook will talk up how Apple values your private data and wouldn’t even think about using it for advertising purposes like Google and Facebook.
But transcriptions are just part of the equation with iCloud Voicemail. Apple is also offering up the ability to send callers (those that you approve of course) your current location along with a reason for why you can’t answer the phone right now.
iCloud Voicemail will purportedly launch sometime in 2016, and given the scope of the new feature, it seems likely that it would launch with iOS 10 in the fall of next year.