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Apple's Siri Currently speaks more Languages than all of their Competitors Combined with Shanghainese on the Way

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Last month Patently Apple posted a report titled in-part "Samsung's Digital Assistant for Galaxy 8 to Support 7 Languages." We also reported on Google Assistant being made available to their Android partners but limited to English with others on the way. Amazon's Alexa only speaks English and German while Microsoft's Cortana offers eight languages tailored for 13 countries. In contrast Apple has the lead on this front by the widest of margins with Siri supporting 21 languages localized for 36 countries. It's a very important capability in iDevices where most sales are outside the United States. 


Today we learn that Apple is extending their lead with Siri as it appears that Shanghainese is coming next, a special dialect of Wu Chinese spoken only around Shanghai.


At Apple, the company starts working on a new language by bringing in humans to read passages in a range of accents and dialects, which are then transcribed by hand so the computer has an exact representation of the spoken text to learn from, said Alex Acero, head of the speech team at Apple. Apple also captures a range of sounds in a variety of voices. From there, a language model is built that tries to predict words sequences.


Then Apple deploys "dictation mode," its text-to-speech translator, in the new language, Acero said. When customers use dictation mode, Apple captures a small percentage of the audio recordings and makes them anonymous. The recordings, complete with background noise and mumbled words, are transcribed by humans, a process that helps cut the speech recognition error rate in half.


After enough data has been gathered and a voice actor has been recorded to play Siri in a new language, Siri is released with answers to what Apple estimates will be the most common questions, Acero said. Once released, Siri learns more about what real-world users ask and is updated every two weeks with more tweaks." For more on this subject, read the full Reuters report here.


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