Apple has brought speech recognition to the masses with its new iPhone 4S, equipped with an intelligent assistant, Siri.

The new smartphone from Apple received positive reactions from technology gadget reviewers especially for its new voice-recognition software.

Siri was first conceived when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Department of Defense’s innovation arm, hooked up with SRI International. In 2010 Apple acquired Siri for an undisclosed sum just two months after its public release. Some members of the Siri team moved to Apple.

Siri is touted as an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking. Siri understands the context, allowing you to speak naturally when you ask it questions, Apple says.

Siri is also claimed to be smart about using the personal information you let it access. Siri helps you make calls, send text messages or e-mail, schedule meetings and reminders, make notes, search the Internet, find local businesses and get directions. Users can also get answers, find facts and even perform complex calculations just by asking, according to Apple.

Phil Schiller, Apple's marketing executive, called Siri the coolest feature of the new iPhone 4S.

David Pogue, the New York Times reviewer, says Siri is crazy good, transformative, category-redefining speech recognition, Bloomberg reported. He added that it's mind-blowing how inexact your utterances can be, noting that Siri even seems, on occasion, to carry on a conversation.

According to Bloomberg's Rich Jaroslovsky, it is vastly better than rival phones with voice commands.

In non-U.S. countries, or if you’re not using U.S. English as your device language, Siri can’t look for businesses, use maps or access traffic info. Apple has said it will be gradually rolling out localizations of Siri for the rest of the world, and for other languages, and that the software is currently in a “beta” state. That means we can probably expect missing features to eventually make their way to international devices, too. In due time, Siri is sure to pick up some international flair as well.