Siri to Support Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian By March 2012

Ni hao, Siri! If rumors and speculations have it right, Apple will be supporting additional languages in its popular Siri speech-powered personal assistant, which will include several Asian languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and more.

In this photo taken Monday Oct. 10, 2011, Siri, the new virtual assistant, is displayed on the new Apple iPhone 4S in San Francisco. Apple is reportedly launching Chinese-language support for Siri by March 2012. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Chinese technology site DoNews cites a source from within Apple that the company is now working on supporting additional languages, in particular the Chinese-language version of Siri. According to the source, the Chinese-language Siri will launch next month, and is actually in testing phases at this time.

This is not really new news, though. Apple itself has promised support for additional languages this 2012, particularly Japanese, Korean and Russian, apart from Chinese. However, what we learn from this update is that support for additional languages are apparently coming sooner than later, and that it will support not just your basic search queries and schedule-setting. Siri will reportedly feature local information and navigation for the supported countries, too.

Navigation and local search are currently only supported in the U.S., which is done in partnership with content providers. Currently, Siri has ties with Wolfram Alpha in providing relevant responses to commands and queries. With a local implementation, users within China will be able to talk to their iPhone 4S smartphones and ask for local-related information. This is likely to involve local search partners, as well. Once in place, Chinese iPhone 4S users will be able to ask Siri for great retail deals or driving directions.

However, the source says that Apple will only support standard Mandarin, at least for this time. This means Cantonese-speaking folks would have to wait a bit longer before they can talk to Siri — and before Siri can talk back in their native tongue.

Siri currently supports U.S. English, British English, German and French. The speech-powered personal assistant is reportedly one of the main selling points of the iPhone 4S, and Apple has limited the feature for use in its latest iPhone 4S. No official support for older-generation iPhones is in sight, although with an iPad refresh due this year, it’s also speculated that Apple will include support for Siri in the next-generation iPad as well.

Via Penn-Olson