At this year’s WWDC, Apple will for the first time give developers a sneak peak at all of the new features it’s planning to cook into iOS 5, rumored to be a significant mobile OS update. While features of previous iOS updates were fairly easy to pin down (i.e cut and paste), we haven’t heard too much about what to expect in iOS 5 aside from a potential update to notifications and increased location/maps functionality.
One new rumor that made the rounds yesterday suggests that iOS 5 will feature deep integration of the voice activation technology Apple acquired when it purchased Siri in April 2010. Winner of the 2010 Most Innovative Web Technology award at SXSW, Siri’s technology lets users fetch information by making queries in plain English without having to type information into a search engine like Google. Wow, now isn’t that convenient.
Siri’s technology also gives users the ability to accomplish other tasks via voice command such as booking a restaurant. Even cooler, and we’ll have to wait until June to see if this functionality persists, but the original Siri iPhone app allowed users to say a phrase like, “Tell my boss I’m going to be 15 minutes late.” Upon recognizing the command, the app then searched the user’s contact lists and social networks until it found someone designated as “boss”. The app would subsequently transcribe the command and send it as a text to the recipient in question. Bad ass.
According to TechCrunch, Apple has parlayed Siri’s technology into a number iOS services and is “now putting the finishing touches on the elements that will be demoed at WWDC.” Moreover, the report speculates that the technology may be opened up for use by third party developers.
Peep a demo of how Siri works below. It’ll be interesting to see how Apple incorporates the technology into the iPhone and what, if any, new features it’s added since the acquisition.
A previous rumor from the Wall Street Journal concerning the iPhone 5, and by extension iOS 5, suggested that the device will have greatly expanded voice activation capabilities including voice navigation functionality.
Further driving home Apple’s focus on voice recognition technology, a job posting from this past December advertised for a Speech Recognition Engineer “looking to contribute to a product that is redefining the smartphone.”