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

MacRumors

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Apr 12, 2001
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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.

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

incongruity

macrumors member
Jun 14, 2010
38
0
My understanding is that they limited speech recognition that is there already is actually Nuance's code, so what's the big surprise here - that Apple's going to do more with them?

Considering there are what, two or three companies that actually do the voice recognition code work and then license the hell out of it, this shouldn't be too surprising.

Now, speech recognition as a command/control interface? It's annoying/awkward if there are other people around, so that will limit it's usefulness, but I'm sure this is attractive for users who are driving, etc.
 

NebulaClash

macrumors 68000
Feb 4, 2010
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This has been my assumption for the iPad for some time. As speech capture gets better, it becomes more practical as an input method that requires little keyboard action. No, you won't be issuing commands on public transportation or in a crowded office, but at home for typing intensive activities like blog entries or school papers or novels, this could make input on an iPad much more accessible in the future.

Remember, the iPad of ten years from now will make today's iPad look puny. This could be one of many ways this will be so.
 

Full of Win

macrumors 68030
Nov 22, 2007
2,615
1
Ask Apple
Could the front camera be used to look at facial gestures / lip movements as a way to make the results more accurate?
 

WestonHarvey1

macrumors 68020
Jan 9, 2007
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Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8H7 Safari/6533.18.5)

Fascinating idea, but I think there's a bit too much latency in starting up a camera thread in iOS and the current hardware right now.
 

macnews

macrumors 6502a
May 12, 2003
601
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Idaho
I would argue for Apple to acquire Nuance with their cash reserve. It would put a dent in the reserve but would also diversify their revenue more by allowing them to take over voice recognition. The patents and everything else would be huge gain. Don't buy them out and do a partnership and their value is almost certain to increase then you can't buy them down the road when you realize you need to.
 

rman726

macrumors 6502
Oct 15, 2007
415
0
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.
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.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
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Central U.S.
It will be a welcome feature, but I doubt I will use it very often. Depends on the implementation and how accurate it is. I don't want to annoy those around me. Probably useful in the car.

My iPhone should be able to detect that I'm in my car, and when I am, activate this technology. Read me my text messages, let me respond with voice commands, and even have an option to read back what it recognized to confirm the accuracy before sending. While this auto activation could be initiated based on GPS information, that won't work if you're on a train or a passenger. Either a toggle, or your own personal RFID chip that you put in your car. iPhone could then sense the chip as activate this mode, but won't in other people's cars. An additional option could be an alert beep and then wait for command, such as "read message." That way it won't read it if you have others in the car and don't want them to hear. Another nice option would be an alert and popup when entering the vehicle, asking whether to activate this mode.
 

JonKean

macrumors member
Sep 16, 2009
30
0
if Apple is only now starting to negotiate a licensing deal, then there's no way iOS 5 will have anything more than the 3GS introduced voice control feature.
 

addicted44

macrumors 6502a
Jun 6, 2005
532
167
if Apple is only now starting to negotiate a licensing deal, then there's no way iOS 5 will have anything more than the 3GS introduced voice control feature.
They have probably been negotiating for a long time (ever since the Siri acquisition, as this rumor indicates, with all the "driving a hard bargain talk"). Its only now that you are hearing rumors of the negotiations.
 

4nNtt

macrumors 6502
Apr 13, 2007
292
6
Chicago, IL
Could be interesting. Not practical on a Mac with a keyboard, but may be practical on an iPhone or iPad where it is more difficult to type. For the iPad in particular, it is difficult to type while holding it.
 

koobcamuk

macrumors 68040
Oct 23, 2006
3,191
9
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 think you have two options:

1) Relax. The people waiting for you to arrive should be patient enough for them not to require constant updating.

2) If 1) cannot be achieved, then let them GPS track your every move and then you'll never need to tell them anything.
 

Dr McKay

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2010
3,414
41
Kirkland
I dont feel like a nerd or a complete dick talking to my phone or anything.

"Call Steve!........No!......Ste...Call Steve!!!......No!....Cancel!!.....Call...Steve!"
 

itickings

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2007
923
5
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...
 

pkson

macrumors regular
Oct 20, 2010
141
1
Nuance has some great technology, I would like to see what they come up with!
 

HHarm

macrumors regular
Mar 4, 2009
138
2
Not practical on a Mac with a keyboard
There are uses and there could be more than there are now.

For example doctors use Nuance based speech recognition for dictations. The keyboard is there but if speech recognition is available, even the younger (i.e computer native) doctors use speech recognition.
 

Stridder44

macrumors 68040
Mar 24, 2003
3,969
136
California
HELL YES! Speech-to-text is the one thing I really wish iOS had, especially in regards to texting. Oh God this would make my day if this rumor is true.
 

JGowan

macrumors 68000
Jan 29, 2003
1,765
22
Mineola TX
Being able to speak to my iPod would be interesting.
??? :confused: You already can... from Apple's website for iPod Touch:

Want to hear some music? Just ask.

Ask and you shall hear.
Voice Control knows the music in your iPod touch. Want to hear something specific? All you have to do is ask. For instance, say “Play artist Bob Dylan,” and iPod touch does just that. Ask what song is playing and hear iPod touch answer. Tell it to play your favorite album, artist, or playlist. Speak simple commands such as “shuffle,” “next song,” and “pause.” Even have iPod touch play more songs like the one you’re listening to.​