Apple are already using voice synthesis & recognition

There’s a lot of speculation going on at the moment about how Apple may or may not be getting ready to implement a speech synthesis & voice recognition system in iOS 5.

Well I think they will and I think they’re testing it already. I called their UK sales line with a question regarding an iPad order and thought I was listening to the usual pre-recorded message until the voice at the other end of the line said:

‘Please just talk to me like a real person and tell me what you need’

I was little surprised when I realised I hadn’t been listening to a recording and stammered something about an iPad order but she (it?) seemed to pick up on the relevant bits and walked me through the identification process until my order had been located. At this point I started asking questions that she obviously wasn’t designed to answer so I was smoothly and quickly put through to a human being who took up where she left off…

I’ve no idea how long this system has been live but I don’t recall reading about it before. It all felt quite strange in an uncanny valley kind of way – definitely better than the normal ‘press 1 for sales, 2 for tech support’, but not quite the same as a laugh and a chat with a real human being. Welcome to the future…

If you want to give it a try call 0800 048 0408 but be nice to her – remember robots have feelings too…

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