Apple does not normally make news for hiring software engineers. But it might have just done so in Taiwanese media by announcing that they’re hiring an engineer to program Siri to “speak” Taiwanese.

Apple’s team in Yokohama, Japan, said weeks ago they are looking for a “highly motivated Taiwanese speaking engineer” to teach Siri how to understand and speak new languages.

This language engineer, in addition to being fluent in Taiwanese, needs to be able to work in an English-speaking environment, use data to tackle complex machine learning problems, and make data-driven decisions to improve localized user experience.

Siri currently supports a total of 21 languages in 36 countries, including Mandarin, Shanghainese, Cantonese, and most widely spoken Germanic and Romance languages.

But Apple’s software is hardly the most powerful in the field. Google Assistant speaks 44 languages and Google Home, a line of Google’s smart speakers, supports 13 languages.

Since 2018, Google Assistant has been able to speak two languages at once, initially a combination of English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish and later Korean, Hindi, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Dutch. It is the first voice assistant among competitors like Siri, Bixby, and Alexa to gain such capabilities.

Google and Apple have been expanding support for languages that competitors do not support yet, such as Taiwanese. They are also teaching their voice assistants to speak and understand dialects of major languages across the world.

In Taiwan, it may be necessary for Siri to speak and understand both Mandarin and Taiwanese at once to serve the elderly.

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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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