Apple Still Planning to Include Nuance/Siri Voice Features in iOS 5?

nuance logo 150One of the major rumors for iOS 5 that failed to materialize at Apple's WWDC keynote yesterday was new voice features from Nuance and Siri. The rumors had pegged iOS 5 as receiving significant integration of voice recognition capabilities, potentially handing off much of the processing for that functionality to its new North Carolina data center.

Apple's keynote was of course devoid of any talk of voice recognition features in iOS 5 or any other Nuance-related announcements, leading to questions about where things stand with the rumor. TechCrunch now revisits its earlier claims, noting that such a deal may still be in the works for iOS 5 but that it simply wasn't ready to go in time for WWDC.

We're still looking into this, but here's the latest we're hearing. At least three of our original sources on this were "very surprised" not to hear anything during the keynote today. One noted that leading up to the last minute, they were sure new, elaborate voice features in iOS 5 were going to be announced on stage. It didn't happen. Apple has been known to pull things at the last second. But this may go deeper.

The report goes on to speculate about whether public disclosure of the Nuance-Apple negotiations may have derailed things somewhat, given the reputations of Apple and Nuance both as hard negotiators.

In suggesting that the Nuance integration may still be in the works, the report also points to a few circumstantial pieces of evidence, including the presence of Nuance's chief mobile platform architect at the WWDC keynote and a brief on-stage demo from Apple's Roger Rosner, who is believed to be heading up the Nuance/Siri work at Apple and who may have had a last-minute change in topic after the Nuance integration was deemed not ready for public consumption.

Update: As noted by several readers, Apple's slide showing a host of iOS 5 features that were not prominently discussed during the keynote does make mention of several features related to VoiceOver and text-to-speech: "Option to speak text selection", "VoiceOver item chooser", and "VoiceOver action support". It is unclear if these are the rumored Nuance features or if the integration is truly a more substantial effort, which should include speech recognition beyond that already utilized in Voice Control on iOS.

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Top Rated Comments

Blackforge Avatar
171 months ago
I bet it is a "feature" of the next iPhone and won't be passed down to previous gen devices. Just like Voice Control wasn't added to the 3G and 2G.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cappy Avatar
171 months ago
I think the best we can guess is simply that we know Apple will have a new iphone out later this year and they will want some special features to hype it up. My guess is it will be this voice integration as the better cpu processing will help tremendously with this.

I have my doubts that this was some last minute breakdown in negotiations.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Westacular Avatar
171 months ago
All of Android's voice recognition depends on Google servers for the heavy lifting; the phones are not able to do it themselves. The phone does a bunch of compression / feature-extraction on the audio, uploads the result of that, and Google sends back what it thinks was actually said.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Westacular Avatar
171 months ago
I hope the weather widget can be chosen not to be the standard wether app. Coz its horrible in my country...

What's that old joke about the Netherlands... "If you don't like the weather, wait an hour"? ;)

I seriously doubt you'll be able to add a different widget. The screenshots showed the little Yahoo! logo in the corner, so the data is almost certainly still coming from The Weather Channel / weather.com.

That said, there was mention of other long-overdue improvements to the weather app -- namely, hourly forecasts, and showing weather for your current location (instead of forcing you to lookup and add it manually, finally!) -- so who knows, there might be other possibilities in store.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
-LikesMac- Avatar
171 months ago
If it IS coming in iOS 5

Then it is probably an iPhone 5 exclusive feature (They might also show iPad 2 support, unless it needs more RAM or something).

Notice, "over 200 new features", with only some shown? Voice features was probably one of the things NOT shown, and only for iP5.

Of course when the new phone comes out it activates some previously unshown features in the OS.

Did anyone notice there was no widgets?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lanspawlo Avatar
171 months ago
I noticed in one of the slides yesterday with the other features of iOS 5 was "Option to speak text selection". Maybe this is proof Apple is improving its speech-to-text capabilities?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)