Apple iOS 7 and Siri Close a Big Mobile UM Gap

Apple iOS 7 and Siri Close a Big Mobile UM Gap

By Art Rosenberg October 2, 2013 6 Comments
Art
Apple iOS 7 and Siri Close a Big Mobile UM Gap by Art Rosenberg

Apple’s first retail store was established in Santa Monica and is only six blocks away from my home. Although I am not dedicated Apple user, I did want to find out more about their latest product release, so, yesterday afternoon, I walked down to their store and sat in on an iOS7 “training” session for a small group of iPhone users.

Aside from the many bells and whistles that Apple has developed for its smartphone, what caught my attention was the expanded role that their Siri can play for creating mobile text messages and can be considered a step forward in “Unified Messaging” (UM).

UM was a precursor to “Unified Communications” (UC), focused on consolidating voicemail and email text messages for message recipients. It started with simply enabling voicemail and email messages to share common storage, then moved on to “Visual Voicemail,” which allowed message recipients to view the header information of the voicemail message in their unified mailbox. This enabled the recipient to avoid having to listen to all their voicemail messages sequentially, and selectively listen to a particular voice message.

With increased speech recognition capability (and manual transcription services), the technology moved on to “Voicemail-to-text” conversion, which enabled message recipients to more efficiently read a voice mail message, rather than listen to it, and eliminated the need to manually transcribe any key information contained in the voice message.

We have always known that it is easier and faster to speak than to type, and that it is easier and faster to read than to listen, so we have really been waiting for communication technologies to deliver on that vision. Apple’s Siri, in their latest iOS7 mobile operating system, now appears to have closed the UM gap for message originators (senders).

Siri for Mobile Messaging

When users are mobile and have to send text messages, typing becomes difficult, time consuming, and error-prone because of the small alphanumeric key top interface of mobile devices. It becomes even more difficult if the user is on the move, usually requiring the sender to stop to type. So, we have all long been waiting to use speech recognition for creating mobile text messages, not just retrieving voice message,

Why is it so important?

It is not just for the convenience of the message senders, but there are also other practical benefits in sending text rather than voice messages over the networks. Text bandwidth needs are much lower than what voice needs, so originating the message in text is operationally a lot more cost efficient for messaging traffic needs. As more and more end users have become mobile and therefore more accessible for receiving and responding to messages, unified messaging has become more important for efficient person-to-person communications. With other technology improvements, like federated presence and contextual “click-to-connect,” messages will also become a faster and convenient way to initiate voice/video calls as a form of response to a message.

What Apple has done with Siri speech recognition is to simply apply it to text message creation on the sender’s device. This eliminates the need for the recipient to have a voice connection to create and retrieve a voice message. Since speech recognition is never perfect, the sender can also quickly see the text generated by Siri, and make any necessary corrections or additions manually before sending the message.

All I have seen so far was the demo at the Apple store in Santa Monica, but based on that alone, I think they have just raised the bar for unified messaging! 

 

6 Responses to "Apple iOS 7 and Siri Close a Big Mobile UM Gap" - Add Yours

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Blair Pleasant 10/2/2013 11:22:01 AM

Art: I got pulled over by a police officer last week while driving - he thought I was sending a text, but I was just turning on bluetooth on my iPhone. He told me that the new California law makes it virtually impossible to do anything with your phone while driving - if it even looks like you're texting, you'll get a ticket. After that I started using Siri to dictate and send text messages, and it worked really well. I can't look down to see the text and make corrections as you suggested while driving, but at least I can get the message sent.
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Art Rosenberg 10/2/2013 2:31:35 PM

Yeah, Blair!

Mobility means different situations that will govern what users can and cannot do, legally or not. That's why the flexibility of UC comes into play most importantly for the rapidly growing population of mobile users.
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Greg Cicero 10/2/2013 3:48:09 PM

I use a streaming Bluetooth on my iPhone and I can send a text message hands free through Siri and also I can have Siri read my incoming text messages as well as reply back to the message if I want to. This is extremely useful while driving. Siri evens repeats the message back before it is sent just in case there might be an error which can be changed. It's simply perfect.
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Art Rosenberg 10/3/2013 10:21:23 AM

Thanks, Greg!

Voice and text messaging are both on the same, two-way technology street. So, as you point out, Siri can easily handle simpler text-to-speech message retrieval for mobile recipients. I didn't mention it, because I didn't see it in the Apple demo, and they didn't have any detailed iOS7 documentation yet for me to read.

Speech-to-text and text-to-speech have always been a key consideration for UC-enabled messaging in my book, not only for person-to-person communications, but also for the increasing role of CEBP and automated notifications and alerts to mobile recipients.
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Art Rosenberg 10/3/2013 2:42:32 PM

For more details on the expanded role of Siri for mobile messaging and information searching, read this review at:

http://www.mobilevoiceconference.com/Apple-Siri.html

Note that the new Siri is a cloud-based speech recognition service that can be constantly improved over time, and can theoretically become device independent to work with other, non-Apple mobile devices, or emulated by other speech recognition providers like Nuance.
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Josh Miller 10/3/2013 10:11:49 PM

Great point Art, I've been using Siri to transcribe my text for a couple years now, and never thought of it from the UM perspective. I have certainly wished I could use Siri to transcribe e-mails though!

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