Apple has today announced its long-rumored Siri assistant feature for iOS 5, a voice-activated tool that will allow you to control many aspects of your iPhone and can perform tasks automatically.

For decades technologists have teased us with this dream that we can talk to our technology,” said Apple’s Phil Schiller, “But it’s never come true! It’s such a let-down! What we really want to do is just talk to our device!”

Apple specifically calls it “Siri: the intelligent assistant to get things done just by asking.” This technology was built out of Siri, an assistant app that Apple purchased last year.

The feature is activated using a long-press on the home button and a command spoken to the iPhone.

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Many different commands were demonstrated including getting the weather, directions on maps, recommendations for restaurants and more.

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A typical exchange goes something like this:

  • Scott Forstall: “Find me a great Greek restaurant in Palo Alto.”
  • Siri on iPhone: “I’ve found five Greek restaurants, and I’ve sorted them by rating.”

Scott Forstall said that “I’ve been in the AI field a long time. This blows me away.”

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Siri also features integration with Wikipedia and popular data engine Wolfram Alpha to provide definitions and more.

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“Compose and dictate email right to Siri,” said Forstall, demonstrating the new feautre. “Set timers. Look up contacts, create notes, search the web, search Wikipedia. It’s absolutely blow-away. Well, who is Siri? Just ask!”

Siri: “I am a humble personal assistant.”

The announcement was made at Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event held at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino.

The iOS 5 update will arrive on October 12th as a free upgrade to users alongside the iCloud products like iTunes Match and iWork.

iOS 5 is the next major revision to Apple’s software for iPhone, iPod, Apple TV and iPad devices. You can see our complete rundown of the iOS announcements back at WWDC here. We’ve also got a closer look at some of the features of iOS like iMessagesTwitterSetup and Notification CenteriCloud and alerts.

We will continue to bring you the latest news on the features of iOS 5 in our Apple coverage today, so stay tuned here.