Skift Take

Apple's annual gathering of mobile app makers revealed that the company is enhancing its voice-activated translation tools. That perked up our ears. But Siri's still not as fast as many travelers would like.

For years, Apple’s main way of interacting with consumers has been through touchscreens. But voice-based interfaces were front-and-center at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference Monday.

In the lead up to this autumn’s release of its new operating system, iOS 11, the company will make its voice assistant Siri much more broadly available to mobile app developers to build software on, expanding the range of travel and other tasks it can accomplish.

Until now, only ride-hailing services among travel company developers have been able to take advantage of Siri’s abilities.

A case in point: Makers of an itinerary planning app will soon be able to let people speak their ideas to add them to a list.

For travelers, Siri’s standout new feature will be language translation services, which would tap into a more expressive, human-sounding voice.

A traveler would be able, for instance, to ask for the most popular dishes at a restaurant and have Siri automatically translate from Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish into English.

The news follows word from Google that it has seen more of a gain in the quality of its text-based language translations in the last year than in the previous 10 years combined.

In related travel tech news, Apple Maps should become more useful with detailed floor plans of airport terminals, starting with 30 airports, from Amsterdam to Vancouver, when the new operating system is released.

Travel marketers will want to note that Apple is intending that its operating system and redesigned Web browser Safari know more about its users individually and would take advantage of that information to push relevant information to them.

On stage at the event in San Jose, California, Apple executives demonstrated how, if a user were reading an article about Iceland, the Apple News app would start suggesting more articles about Iceland, and the its Messages app would automatically emphasize correct spellings for Icelandic destinations.

That has potential benefits for marketers hoping to reach consumers with relevant content.

Apple Watch also got attention. Its Siri watch face, which pushes key information from the digital assistant, would be able to blend travel itineraries in with other calendar and messaging alerts.

The company used a JetBlue flight reservation as an example of a potential integration with a third-party mobile app.

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Tags: apple, siri, translations

Photo credit: Siri on Apple's new operating system, iOS 11, will speak to users in other languages. Apple WWDC 2017

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