Apple Acquisition Will Boost iPhone's Voice-Activated Search Capabilities

Apple remained mum on the details of its acquisition of Siri, a San Jose, Calif.-based startup, according to a story in The New York Times.

Siri's Website describes the company's technology as "a virtual personal assistant" for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch. The mobile app, just released in February, uses a combination of GPS and speech-recognition technology to answer such questions as "Where is the nearest Starbucks?", according to the Siri Website.

Siri reportedly used voice-recognition technology from Nuance in developing its application and collaborated with Citysearch, OpenTable and Taxi Magic to provide search results. The Siri application currently works on the iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch and only works within the U.S.

Siri raised a total of $24 million in start-up funds from investors, including Menlo Ventures and Li Ka-Shing, a Chinese billionaire who also invested in Facebook, The New York Times story said.

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Google Android, a competing mobile platform to Apple's iPhone OS, has built-in voice search capabilities and Apple's acquisition of Siri is widely seen as Apple's response.

The Siri acquisition is Apple's second this week: Tuesday Apple reportedly acquired Intrinsity, an Austin, Tex.-based semiconductor developer whose products are used in Apple's fast-selling iPad.