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Word on the street is Apple has some great things planned for Siri. The tech giant is reportedly working on a service that transcribes voicemail.

Apple employees are currently testing the feature to iron out the kinks before it gets released to consumers. If all goes well, the update could reach your smartphone some time in 2016.

Could this new technology bring audio messages back to the mainstream?

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No One Likes (Receiving) Voicemails

Sending voicemail is quick, easy and sometimes fun. But being on the receiving end of the arrangement is where the convenience stops.

Most people loop voice messages because they’re hard to understand. There are tons of factors that can affect the quality of an incoming audio clip (background noise, weird accents and wind- just to name a few). Like slow printers and CDs, today’s busy lifestyles have pushed voicemails out of the norm. According to Business Insider, the older generation love using the stale technology and rely on it on a regular basis, while younger demographics tend to stick to newer messaging methods. 

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How Will Siri Do This?

Apple’s computerized transcription service starts with iCloud Voicemail users. When an unanswered call comes through, Siri will intercept the connection (instead of going to a digital recorder). The message goes to Apple’s servers, where the audio clip is turned into text. Lastly, the information appears on your smartphone, leaving you with the option to save, delete or take other actions like call the person back.

The iCloud Voicemail platform can also send information about your location and provide reasons why you aren’t picking up (like an answering machine).

Based on the latest round of updates, it seems that Apple is building Siri to one day become a powerful virtual assistant. By adding enhanced voicemail options, the company hopes more people will use its productivity services.

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The Future of Voice-based Services

For now, the voice services space is very open. The top four names in the niche include Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. Naturally, one would think that Apple and Google would dominate the scene, but Cortana and Alexa are creeping up fast.

Alexa is not like the other three platforms. It’s a standalone virtual assistant and smart home controller that functions with a tangible device (Amazon Echo). The company recently opened up its arsenal of developer tools, which adds long-term value to the product through third-party integration.

“One key step that will be necessary for voice-based actions to be fully adopted is the ability to push and pull information across different apps – search mail, engine or text messages; enter text on a note or email; ask an app to perform a certain function – and I see Apple ahead of the game on that front now,” said Antonio Casanova, director at SEO for Starcom Worldwide.

“In general, as communication between apps, including search engine to app flow, improves, I believe people will spend more and more time on their apps, seamlessly jumping from one to another.”

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