Back in June, 9to5Mac reported that Apple would offer a feature-rich voice recognition service in a future version of iOS called Assistant. Since the acquisition of Siri and partnership with Nuance, it has been rumored that Apple was planning to offer voice-related features in iOS. However, at WWDC 2011 Apple didn’t mention any such features during the iOS 5 demo.
Today, 9to5Mac has discovered more details about Apple’s new upcoming “Assistant” feature in iOS. The new details reveal that the Nuance/Siri’s voice recognition service will require the iPhone 4S/5 that will be introduce at the company’s media event next week. In addition, the report details natural speech recognition capabilities of “Assistant” and its ability to integrate across a number of iOS services. This feature will offer a powerful personal assistant to allow users to handle scheduling, reminder, and messaging tasks solely by voice. Clearly, this feature blows Android’s voice recognition out of the water.
“Assitant” will also apparently integrate a system in which that can ask the user questions to clarify and refine its understanding of what is being requested.
The system will actually speak back and forth with the user to gain the most information in order to provide the best results. The user essentially can hold a conversation with their iPhone like it is another human being. For example, if a user is making a meeting with me, they will say setup meeting with Markand the first bubbleof the conversation thread will say that. After that, the system will speak back: which e-mail address should Mark be notified at, work or personal?This question will both be spoken out loud by the iPhone Assistant and shown as a new bubblein the conversation thread. The user will then respond with the email address they want to notify me at, and the appointment will be made. The iPhone will even show a quick glance at a calendar view to confirm the appointment. If the Assistant was sending an SMS, as another example, a mini SMS view would appear so the user has a quick glance at the SMS thread.
This feature is also rumored to have WolframAlpha integration, which would allow users to obtain answers to factual questions using the service’s capabilities.
According to the report, the voice features will require the new iPhone hardware, relying on the company’s A5 chip and an increase in RAM to 1 GB to support the heavy workload.
Apple is expected to unveil its next-genration iPhone and iPod touch on October 4th during a press event. Numerous rumors have suggested an “iPhone 4S” and an iPod touch with 3G capabilities (which I don’t see happening).