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Siri-like 'Assistant' Voice Navigation being Integrated into IOS5

Recently, the development community discovered an interesting addition to the latest iOS5 SDK. There is a feature buried within iOS5 called ‘Assistant’ and it appears to be an enhancement to the Siri voice recognition software previously available on Apple’s iTunes Appstore. Siri was purchased by Apple in early 2010, and recently, Apple had also announced a partnership with Nuance, a leading voice recognition expert to provide the onboard speech-to-text capabilities.

The original Siri software sat atop iOS and could do some very interesting things, but it is now being suggested that deep integration into iOS would give ‘Assistant’ access to system level resources. This deep integration would give ‘Assistant’ secure access to information such as contacts, location and even media file metadata. You could conceivably control the iPhone by voice alone with minimal interaction with the touchscreen.

For those that never had a chance to play with Siri, it allowed very intuitive voice navigation on the iPhone – check Siri’s promotional video below for an example of its capabilities.

What made Siri interesting was that it allowed you to speak in plain English using natural language processing. Natural language processing allows you to use ‘Assistant’ without having to learn limiting commands or command structures. The app performs speech-to-text conversion, and then parses what you said to figure out what you were asking for. The inclusion of active speech-to-text entry capability by Nuance also suggests that applications such as SMS texting, emails and note taking can all now be done by voice, instead of using the onscreen keyboard.

Besides voice navigation, it also seems clear from the screenshot above that the iPhone will also be able to respond back to the user using the iPhone’s onboard speech synthesis capability. Since these features have been uncovered in beta versions of IOS5, there is no guarantee that they will be enabled in iOS5 or any future iOS release (remember multi-touch gestures?). However, if ‘Assistant’ does make it to iOS5, Apple will take another quantum leap in smartphone usability and performance and keep competitors scrambling to keep up.


Source: 9to5Mac

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