Apple Inc. engineers are working on a voicemail service that will allow Siri to answer your calls and send you a text of the message left by the person. Effectively, Apple wants to make Siri your receptionist.
If this service works as planned, you may never need to listen to your voicemail again. Siri will take a memo for you.
The Benefits of a Digital Assistant
The whole premise of the new service is based on the idea that people like to leave voicemail, but not to listen to voicemail messages. Using that problem as the inspiration for the new feature, Apple employees got busy with a Siri-based solution.
The service, proposed for launch next year and powered by Apple’s iCloud, will offer the convenience of being able to read your voicemail as a text message. Since it’s typically faster to read words than it is to listen to someone speak, it’s a time-saver.
Also, the service is intended to bridge the generation gap. Older people like voicemail, younger people do not. And why should they, when text messages are a lot quicker to read than listening to a talking person?
How It Works
Here’s how Siri will handles your calls. If you’re an iCloud Voicemail user who’s unable to take a call, Siri will answer the call instead of letting it go to a standard “Leave your message at the beep” recorder.
iCloud Voicemail can also explain why you’re unable to take the call (in a meeting, on another call, on a hot date, etc.). Whether or not this service interfaces with other iPhone features, such as your calendar, is unclear at this time.
When the unanswered caller leaves a message, Siri will transcribe the soundbite for you and send it to you as a text message. The Apple servers act as repositories for the voice message. Siri will take those voice messages and, using a standard speech-to-text algorithm, translate them into readable text for you. Once you receive that text, you can comprehend it as fast as you can read.
This isn’t the first time Apple launched a product that encroaches upon the territories of mobile phone networks and wireless service providers. The firm quietly launched Apple SIM in 2014, which allows users to easily switch between networks through the device.
Apple As A Carrier Network
There has been ongoing speculation that Apple wants to operate as its own mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), meaning that it would rent bandwidth from traditional wireless service suppliers and charge users who go through this system.
Since the new iCloud Voicemail would be replicating a service that carriers already provide, this is another incentive for Apple to launch its own carrier network to better compete with Google’s Project Fi.
Wireless industry pioneer, John Stanton, worked with Steve Jobs before the launch or the iPhone on becoming a carrier network.
Stanton, chairman of venture capital firm Trilogy Partners, said he spent a fair amount of time with Jobs between 2005 and 2007. “He wanted to replace carriers,” Stanton said of Jobs, the Apple founder and CEO who died Oct. 5 after a battle with cancer. “He and I spent a lot of time talking about whether synthetically you could create a carrier using Wi-Fi spectrum. That was part of his vision.”
Apple’s close sources are also saying that the company is privately implementing an MVNO service in the US as a trial basis, and is also in talks with telecom companies in Europe about bringing theirservice there as well.
On July 16, the Financial Times reported that Apple and Samsung were in talks with carriers to launch “e-SIM” cards and the MVNO srvice could possibly be an evolution of that.
The idea behind the talks is a universal standard for embedded SIM cards (“e-SIM”) that are built into the phone and not user accessible. These subscriber identity modules would allow customers to sign up for service on any network they wanted, then allow them to switch at any time (obviously with some limitations placed by the carriers).
Apple isn’t the only smartphone manufacturer in these discussions. Samsung is also reported to be part of the talks, meaning this tech could become a real standard across iPhone and Android devices, unlike Apple’s current SIM which is locked specifically to the company’s hardware.”
Siri was already slated for an upgrade in iOS 9. It’s no surprise, then, that a great new feature such as this one should be part of the offering. In addition to this service, Siri will be able to search within apps and predict what you want to do.
The Apple iCloud Voicemail service is expect to launch in 2016 as part of the iOS 10 operating system.