Siri learns Shanghainese as Apple’s voice assistant’s language lead widens

“With the broad release of Google Assistant last week, the voice-assistant wars are in full swing, with Apple Inc., Inc., Microsoft Corp. and now Alphabet Inc.’s Google all offering electronic assistants to take your commands,” Stephen Nellis reports for Reuters. “Siri is the oldest of the bunch, and researchers including Oren Etzioni, chief executive officer of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle, said Apple has squandered its lead when it comes to understanding speech and answering questions.”

“But there is at least one thing Siri can do that the other assistants cannot: speak 21 languages localized for 36 countries, a very important capability in a smartphone market where most sales are outside the United States,” Nellis reports. “Microsoft Cortana, by contrast, has eight languages tailored for 13 countries. Google’s Assistant, which began in its Pixel phone but has moved to other Android devices, speaks four languages. Amazon’s Alexa features only English and German. Siri will even soon start to learn Shanghainese, a special dialect of Wu Chinese spoken only around Shanghai.”

“Google and Amazon said they plan to bring more languages to their assistants but declined to comment further.”

Find out how Siri learns new languages here.

MacDailyNews Take: Beyond language support, Apple has been slow to build out Siri’s capabilities (the questions she can answer without defaulting to a web search and the actions she can perform), but, in American English at least, she’s usually dead on, and especially accurate via Apple Watch.

Apple’s Siri has a huge language advantage – February 28, 2017
Apple’s ‘secret’ Siri lab in the UK is no longer quite so secret – February 22, 2017
Former VocalIQ staff working on Siri in Apple’s R&D office in Cambridge, England – November 3, 2016
Apple employs Artificial Intelligence guru from university that taught computers to ‘defeat humans’ – October 19, 2016
New hire could be critical step toward attracting high-profile AI research talent to Apple – October 18, 2016
Apple hires a big brain in AI to smarten up Siri – October 17, 2016
Apple transforms Turi into dedicated machine learning division to build future product features – August 31, 2016
An exclusive inside look at how artificial intelligence and machine learning work at Apple – August 24, 2016
Apple rumored to be taking big piece of Seattle-area office market in expansion – August 12, 2016
Why Apple will become a leader in artificial intelligence – August 8, 2016
Apple buys machine-learning startup Turi for $200 million – August 6, 2016
Apple touts Artificial Intelligence in iOS and opens ‘crown jewels’ to developers – June 14, 2016
Smartphones to die out within five years, replaced by artificial intelligence – survey – December 9, 2015
Apple’s extreme secrecy retarding its artificial intelligence work – October 30, 2015
Apple hires NVIDIA’s artificial intelligence director – October 24, 2015
Apple acquires advanced artificial intelligence startup Perceptio – October 5, 2015
Apple buys artificial intelligence natural language start-up VocalIQ – October 2, 2015


  1. I only ever use Siri on my watch to set a timer, I’m just not a fan of talking to my devices. I will never understand why Siri’s capabilities are so specifically tied to voice commands. Why not allow us to type in a question? It’d probably work better as you’re not having to judge for accents or noisy environments.

    1. When I asked Siri she replied “I don’t understand the question, but that ignorant asshole breeze asked me the same thing.” She’s a lot smarter than I thought. 🖕🖕🖕

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.