Apple gets serious about Siri on the mainland, seeks native speakers of Putonghua

The American company looks to "customize culturally appropriate dialogue for China"

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 6:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 2:17pm

Apple has posted listings on its jobs page for a “Siri Writer or Editor” in Putonghua, indicating that the company may ramp up its efforts to improve its voice recognition service in China.

According to the listings, Apple is looking for candidates who are native speakers of Putonghua, with “current and direct exposure to Chinese culture over a sustained time period.”

The description states that candidates must be able to “identify opportunities for cultural enhancements” and “help evolve Siri as a distinct, recognizable character.”

"We’re looking for a creative individual who is also a native speaker of Mainland Chinese to help us evolve and enrich Siri, Apple’s virtual personal assistant, for our Chinese market," the jobs listing reads.

"The ideal candidate is someone who is keenly aware of Chinese culture, loves language, and has the writing ability needed to craft and customize culturally appropriate dialogue for China."

In English-speaking regions, Siri understands a variety of questions and voice commands, but the same cannot be said of the software's capabilities in China.

In Taiwan and on the mainland, Siri can perform basic functions like open apps, search websites, and call friends.

However, Siri does not have access to local directories, and when users try to ask questions or initiate conversation in Chinese, the program has a tendency to become unresponsive, even though Putonghua and Cantonese versions of Siri have been constantly tweaked over the last several years. 

Additional reporting by Jeremy Blum