I try to call this function and it tells me that it is not available in the cloud currently. If I upgrade and get access to the Desktop( with the non local files) will I be able to call this function?
Also what is the scope of this function? I take it to mean that I can take a document, import as plaintext, then turn it into semantically salient units that wolphram alpha produces.
I have used semanticInterpretation and it does exactly what I would like to systematize, which I am hoping that SemanticImportString does.
Also, is the Desktop faster than running it through the browser?
Bruce is entirely right: there are technical issues including SemanticImport and SemanticImportString in either WPC as provided or with the Desktop upgrade. We're certainly glad to know about your interest in SemanticImport for the Desktop product and will take that into account in prioritizing further development in this area. Both of these functions will certainly be available in the next edition of Mathematica as well as other new products.
SemanticImport and SemanticImportString do take documents and strings, respectively, and annotate them with semantic structures similar to W|A. However, the scope of SemanticImport is narrower than SemanticInterpretation, which attempts to interpret inputs broadly, but instead is optimized for structures typically found in spreadsheets and tabular data, such as dates, amounts of money, countries, and states (see the SemanticImport documentation for a complete list). However, SemanticImport does take specifications to use any kind of Interpreter if expected. Overall, SemanticImport and SemanticImportString represent good tools for a first-pass over sets of data, which can be enriched with Interpreter and SemanticInterpretation in further processing.
I hope this helps.
My understanding is that SemanticImport(String) had security issues that are delaying its appearance on the Wolfram Programming Cloud.
I do not have an estimate when/if it will be available in cloud products.