Apple launches Siri voice-activated controls with new iPhone 4S

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Roughly 18 months after Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) acquired mobile voice recognition solutions provider Siri, the computing giant is finally integrating voice-activated Siri controls into its forthcoming iPhone 4S, which it formally announced during a media event Tuesday and is slated to arrive to retail Oct. 14.

The Siri technology enables iOS device users to employ natural spoken language to access and perform device tasks like mobile search, messaging and contacts. Apple Senior Vice President of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller described Siri as an "intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking," while Senior Vice President of iOS software Scott Forstall demonstrated the service by asking Siri about the weather, to which a computer-generated voice replied "Here is the weather for today." Siri also supplied information about the current time in Paris, today's Nasdaq performance and recommended Greek restaurants in the Palo Alto area.

Schiller said Siri works with all built-in iOS apps and operates across both Wi-Fi and 3G networks. The technology will support English, French and German during its initial beta launch.

Siri essentially applies search algorithms to translate users' verbal search queries and commands into web searches. Apple acquired Siri in April 2010, a deal interpreted in many quarters as an attempt to strike against archrival Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) longstanding dominance in mobile search and navigation services. Prior to the Apple acquisition, Siri secured a total of $24 million in venture financing--investors included Menlo Ventures as well as Li Ka-Shing, the Chinese billionaire who also backed mobile social networking giant Facebook.

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