Apple Negotiating Deal With Nuance for Speech Recognition in iOS 5?

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TechCrunch reports that Apple is rumored to be negotiating some sort of deal with Nuance Communications, the speech recognition company behind the Dragon NaturallySpeaking engine that powers a number of popular applications for Mac OS X, iOS, and other platforms.

Apple has been negotiating a deal with Nuance in recent months, we've heard from multiple sources. What does that mean? Well, it could mean an acquisition, but that is looking fairly unlikely at this point, we hear. More likely, it means a partnership that will be vital to both companies and could shape the future of iOS.

The report notes that Nuance's technology is already used to drive personal assistant software from Siri, a company purchased by Apple last year. Apple has also been said to be preparing to bring a substantial integration of Siri's artificial intelligence and voice control capabilities into iOS 5 presumably set for release later this year.

The other option is for Apple to build the technology themselves. And some recent job postings suggest they may be thinking about that. But to get to where Nuance is today it would take a long, long time. Perhaps more importantly, it's well known in the industry that Nuance holds key patents for their technology and is very aggressive in protecting them. Even Apple would have a hard time dancing around this if they did go it alone.

According to the new report, it is unlikely that Apple is seeking a direct acquisition of Nuance, given the company's $6 billion market capitalization and reports that the company is known for driving a hard bargain, including in negotiations with Apple to keep Siri's services alive after the acquisition, negotiations that have reportedly yet to lead to an agreement.

While an acquisition is still a possibility, a more likely scenario seems to be an expansive licensing deal that would provide Apple with the technology it needs at a substantially lower cost than an acquisition while also giving Apple time to build out its own in-house expertise to potentially replace Nuance at some point down the road.

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Top Rated Comments

topmounter Avatar
170 months ago
A bit late to the game, Apple?


I'd say so... we figured out a long time ago that (unless you're disabled of course) talking to our computers appeared cool in Star Trek, but not so cool in reality.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itickings Avatar
170 months ago
I'd say so... we figured out a long time ago that (unless you're disabled of course) talking to our computers appeared cool in Star Trek, but not so cool in reality.
…and people figured out a long time ago that watching videos on the computer appeared cool in movies, but not so cool in reality.

Yet here we are a bunch of years later, Youtube this, stream that, etc. Ridiculous improvements in computer performance, available bandwidth and amount of computers networked changed the game completely.

I would argue that the current state of speech control is flawed not because talking to your computer or device is inherently bad, but because of two things relating to the implementation:

1. Speech recognition accuracy is less than perfect.
2. Computers/devices are too dumb to understand what you intend.

You can control the computer in Star Trek because it rather correctly hears what you say, and in general understands what you MEAN. The second part there is the absolutely hardest one to solve. Still, there both areas are continuously evolving and advancing.

Besides, not even Star Trek uses voice control as the only means of input, there are many many buttons available...
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gramirez2012 Avatar
170 months ago
It just seems strange if your in public screaming at your phone.

Does it? I see/hear people yelling into their phones in public all the time. :mad:
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Marzzz Avatar
170 months ago
Really we should keep YOU off the road because you are clearly the problem. It's piss poor drivers like yourself that shouldn't be on the road, and that cause all the accidents. Those of us intelligent lifeforms that can drive fine, and recognize when there is plenty of space between other cars on the road and your car to be able to spend two seconds to read a text message aren't the ones driving in accidents. I'm not saying there aren't people who don't know how to drive AND use their cell phones... There are clearly plenty. But just because you aren't able to multitask, doesn't mean some people can't.
Wow, utterly foolish. I hope the worst thing that ever happens to you is a close call, maybe you will learn something without hurting anyone.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Laird Knox Avatar
170 months ago
I disagree. I would love for Apple to integrate voice to text capabilities like Android has, where you can speak on any text input screen. This would be particularly useful while driving. I can look at my phone for 2 seconds to read a text message asking "When will you be home?" or something like that. It's a lot more effort to drive and type even a simple response like "15 mins" (not to mention, downright dangerous). If I could select a little button on the text message screen and say "15 minutes," and have it type it for me. That would definitely be useful for me. I currently use the Google app to do that if I want to google something quickly without typing it, but I would much prefer to use my default browser (iCab). We aren't talking about Star Trek here; just some functionality that would help speed things up a little bit.

I would say you have no right being behind the wheel. Forget about typing - "glancing at my phone for 2 seconds" and you have traveled 200 feet at 70 mph.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Full of Win Avatar
170 months ago
Could the front camera be used to look at facial gestures / lip movements as a way to make the results more accurate?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)