Voice recognition will supposedly be built into Apple’s next mobile operating system. This means that, in the near future, users of the iPhone and iPad will be able to use their voice to enter text into nearly every application,
This feature will allegedly be the result of a partnership between Apple and Nuance. Nuance is the company behind Dragon Dictation for iPhone and its sister product, Dragon Search. It has many years of experience doing speech recognition, and an impressive patent collection to go along with it.
Dragon Diction already allows users to enter text just by speaking to their smartphone or tablet, but the iOS doesn’t allow anyone but Apple to create global text-entry systems. This mean that people need to go through the somewhat cumbersome process of opening Nuance’s app, having it handle the voice to text conversion, then cutting and pasting the text into another app. There are a few exceptions, as Dragon Diction is capable of creating and sending an email, but its overall usefulness it still somewhat limited.
Apple’s plan is, according to an unconfirmed report, to make Nuance’s speech recognition a part of iOS 5. This would allow it to be used in virtually any app, and saving users the hassle of having to enter text with the iPhone’s small on-screen keyboard.
Rival Google already includes this feature in its Android operating system for smartphones. At one point in the past, it and Apple were planning to integrate Google’s voice conversion service into the iOS, but after the launch of Android their inter-company relationship has become strained.
The Business Part
Beyond Nuance’s long experience with voice technologies, it is this company’s library of patents — along with an oft-demonstrated willingness to defend them in court — that is apparently what’s bringing Apple to the bargaining table instead of developing its own in-house solution.
Nuance’s Dragon line of apps doesn’t handle speech recognition on the device. Instead, remote servers take on this very processor-intensive task. Apple is supposedly setting up a data center in North Carolina for this task.
Wait and See
Apple has announced that the official unveiling of the next version of the iOS 5 is set for its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) early in June. However, unofficial sources are indicating that this new version won’t actually be released for several more months, along with the iPhone 5.