At WWDC tonight, Apple unveiled iOS 6, the latest version of its operating system for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices. One of the numerous intriguing new features added to iOS is the Siri voice assistant coming to the iPad for the first time.
Apple's Siri voice assistant made its debut with the launch of the iPhone 4S last year, enabling iPhone users to send messages and search for information by speaking commands out loud. It was heavily rumoured that the feature would make the move to iPad when Apple updated its tablet in March, but it remained an iPhone-only service.
But this time around the rumours that Siri for iPad would appear as part of the iOS 6 update turned out to be correct. (Although some sceptics believed that Apple would be put off by one complication: that users hold the iPad further from their faces than the iPhone, so the microphone would need to be more sensitive to achieve the same level of accuracy. We can only guess that Apple is confident in the abilities of the iPad 3's mic.)
iOS 6 sees a number of other enhancements to Siri - users will be able to search for sports information, for instance - although it remains to be seen how many of the new features will apply in the UK; Siri's local business search is still limited to the US.
Apple boss Tim Cook compered the WWDC keynote, delegating to various VPs for individual demos
Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iOS software, demonstrated Siri's sports feature by asking it "What is Buster Posey's batting average?", to which Siri responded "Buster Posey has a batting average of .290. Player card and stats." Siri has also (again, in the US) had updates to its movie and restaurant knowledge, and can now include Yelp reviews with restaurant information to advise users which meal to choose.
One new Siri feature that we should be able to use in the UK is app launching. Simply say the name of an app to launch it.
Apple is also working with a number of car manufactuers to integrate Siri functionality with cars, in the form of a button on the steering wheel that launches Siri on your iPhone. As Siri is capable of performaing a lot of hands-free functions this could be quite a boon to drivers. Forstall said: "A number of auto manufacturers have already committed to deliver eyes-free Siri integration in the next 12 months: BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chysler and Honda."
Additional reporting by Mark Hattersley