Siri itself confirms Japanese support coming soon to Apple's iPhone 4S

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Apple's Siri virtual assistant for the iPhone 4S claims it can already speak Japanese, despite the fact that the language is not yet enabled in the feature's settings.

Watchful iPhone 4S users noticed on Tuesday that Siri is now claiming to speak Japanese. Given that recent rumors have claimed Siri will understand and speak Japanese, Mandarin and Russian as soon as March, Siri's admission could be taken as evidence that Japanese support, at the least, is imminent.

When asked what languages it can speak, Siri responds, "I speak Japanese, English, German and French. I'm studying some new languages, too."

It then adds, "You can change the language I'm using…just go to Siri settings." However, the settings pane for the feature shows only English (with separate selections for Australia, United Kingdom and United States), French and German, with no way to select Japanese.

Apple has promised that Siri support for Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Spanish will arrive sometime during 2012. Though the iPhone 4S has had the fastest international rollout of any of Apple's handsets, Siri has been unable to keep up the pace. In fact, Japan was one of the first countries to receive the iPhone 4S when it launched last October.

The iPhone maker is hard at work at expanding Siri's capabilities. The company posted several job listings late last year for "Language Technologies Engineers" who would help port Siri to other languages. The Siri development team is believed to be one of the largest working groups at Apple.

Apple has repeatedly promoted Siri as the standout feature for the iPhone 4S. Most recently, it released two new television commercials last week that show iPhone 4S users seeking advice from Siri as they realize their dreams of cross-country road trips and becoming a "Rock God."

Siri was originally a free application in the App Store until Apple purchased the company in 2010. At the time, the voice assistant was billed as being a "major cornerstone in how [Apple] competes with Google."

The feature was then unveiled last October during the iPhone 4S launch event. It has received praise for its "mind-blowing" abilities, though some have criticized it for its limited functionality overseas, beta status, and the difficulty it has in understanding certain English accents.


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