Business Insider reports that the company is testing its virtual assistant’s ability to answer calls for users and transcribe their voicemails.
Siri’s role as secretary and stenographer will reportedly be part of a new service called iCloud Voicemail. Users will be able to set up custom responses when they can’t answer the phone; these responses can provide callers with information like a user’s location and what he or she is doing.
Presumably, Siri will be able to pull this information from other iOS apps, like iCal, and the phone’s GPS. Siri’s new contextual learning could also gather potentially relevant information to relay to callers.
If a caller wants to leave a message, this new version of Siri will transcribe the voicemail and present it to the user as a text transcript. The process will work similarly to how Siri currently processes spoken words to respond to commands.
The service won’t debut until 2016, but already, its rumored existence raises the question, Why? Google Voice has offered voicemail transcription for years, and while it has been a less-than-perfect service, Google recently announced improvements to its voicemail system that supposedly cut errors by nearly 50 percent.
With Apple overhauling Siri and Google refining its own system, the next mobile war could be fought over the user’s voicemail inbox. No matter which service proves better over time, we’ll all win, because we won’t have to listen to voicemails anymore.