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Let me start off by saying this: Your phone is not suddenly going to gain sentience and become Skynet. However, your phone is about to become a whole lot smarter, thanks to Apple and its new artificial intelligence Assistant.
The hype surrounding Tuesdays Apple iPhone event is at an all-time high. But most of the hype is focused on the hardware that Apple will announce. What will the iPhone 5 look like? Will there be an iPhone 4S? Will it have 4G capabilities or a bigger screen?
The real star of Tuesdays show will not be the hardware, though. This event will focus on software, specifically one piece of software that Apple: the iPhone Assistant.
Assistant is the successor to Siri, the iPhone app that helped users with their daily tasks with natural language voice commands. Ask Siri to find a restaurant for you, and it could not only complete your requests, but it could also help you book a reservation. It could grab movie ratings, find you a taxi, perform Google searches and much more. Most of all, it learned from your actions and refined its recommendations accordingly.
The technology that powered Siri was born from SRIs CALO project, the largest artificial intelligence project in U.S. history. Its complex technology that linked machine learning to natural language. In other words, its technology that made artificial intelligence accessible and useful to the regular person.
Two months after its launch, Apple acquired Siri for more than $200 million.
On Tuesday, Siri will be reborn as Assistant. And while we have not had a chance to play with Assistant ourselves, weve heard amazing things from the people who have used it.
Say youre in a new city and youre really craving Chinese. In the past, you might have pulled up the Yelp app, performed a search on Yelp and combed through results. With Assistant, you can say to your iPhone, Please find me a Chinese restaurant within a mile of my location.
Instead of searching for the taxi companys number, Assistant will find it for you. Instead of searching through your apps, Assistant will open up your app and tell the app what you want it to do (we eventually expect APIs that will allow users to directly access their apps via Assistant).
And yes, Assistant will be able to transcribe your texts and perform web searches, much like Googles Android OS. Assistant will utilize Nuances advance voice-recognition technology to accomplish these tasks.
The key though is that Assistant will learn. It will figure out what results you dont like, what restaurants you frequent, and what people you want to talk to the most. It will adapt to your needs and become more than just a module for voice commands.
In a great interview on Monday, Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky wasnt shy to share his thoughts on how Assistant will not only change personal computing but the entire world.
Make no mistake: Apples mainstreaming Artificial Intelligence in the form of a Virtual Personal Assistant is a groundbreaking event, Winarsky told 9to5mac. Id go so far as to say it is a world-changing event.
But why is Assistant a world-changing event? Winarsky explains further:
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, he said. The PAL (personal assistant software) will get things done, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Were talking another technology revolution. A new computing paradigm shift.
Apple plans to change the very way we interact with our phones yet again. Apple already sparked one revolution with touchscreens and another with the App Store. After Tuesday though, it will have introduced a whole new method of interacting with computers: through an artificial intelligence. That is something that will change our fundamental relationship with the devices that sit on our desks and travel with us in our pockets.
Starting Tuesday, well be talking about a new computing revolution.
Lead image courtesy of DreamWorks
Polish students designed this beauty, going with the curved back look. Found on VeteranGeek.
iPhone News Blog
This early mockup extrapolates from the current iPhone 4 design. It's a clean design -- one we'd be happy to slip into a pocket. Found on the German iPhone News Blog.
Those talented French artists at Nowhere Else envision the iPhone 5 having a rounded back, and accompanied this attractive illustration with an entire infographic full of iPhone 5 rumors and speculation.
On the left is allegedly the iPhone 5 in the hands of someone testing it on a train, and the white phone is allegedly the iPhone 4S, all found by 9-to-5 Mac.
MacRumors' mockup created by CiccareseDesign shows a slim cross section.
Called the "Size Zero iPhone 5," Antonello Falcon's flight of fancy has a 4.6-inch screen, curved glass edges, a thin 8.4mm cross-section and a soft-touch Home button. Perhaps this is more akin to an iPhone 6. Found on VeteranGeek.
This is My Next
This mockup from ThisIsMyNext has been floating around for a while, but it latched on early to the teardrop-shaped cross-section and larger screen.
Called the "Glossy iPhone 5," this ultra-lightweight design features a plastic cover. Here's Roman's website.
From MacRumors, this design echos the iPhone 4, but thinner.
When iDeals China leaked a shot of a 4-inch screen that was alleged to belong to an iPhone 5, Polish designer Piotr Spalek put together a mockup that matched up with the screen.
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