AT&T isn’t letting Apple’s Siri slow its own speech detection technology. The company has announced the release of its new speech API powered by the Watson engine.

Along with the API, AT&T is also releasing software development kits for iOS and Android.

The API offers a set of seven different capabilities, some of which are unique to the market:

  • Web search speech to text.
  • Business search speech to text.
  • Voicemail to text.
  • SMS speech to text.
  • Question and answer transcription.
  • TV speech to text.
  • Generic speech to text.


AT&T’s Watson is programmed to “learn” different accents, speaker variations, background environments, platform variations, dialects, and speech patterns to improve accuracy over time.

If you want to see the speech engine in action, there is already an app that leverages the technology. The universal app AT&T Translator, available in the App Store, translates spoken and textual phrases from one language to another. Interestingly, the app also supports automatic identification of pairs of languages without the need to swap to/from languages. That helps facilitate a natural conversation.

And, unlike some translation apps, AT&T’s is free and did as good of a job as other similar apps I’ve tested. Hopefully, we’ll soon see other apps with the functionality. The more market pressure for Apple to improve Siri, the better.