Apple to announce Nuance partnership, data center integration at WWDC?

Apple North Carolina Data Center to double in size

TechCrunch has followed up on their original report on Apple/Nuance partnership talks, saying the deal might already be on its way and could be part of next month's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote.

More specifically, we’re hearing that Apple is running Nuance software — and possibly some of their hardware — in this new data center. Why? A few reasons. First, Apple will be able to process this voice information for iOS users faster. Second, it will prevent this data from going through third-party servers. And third, by running it on their own stack, Apple can build on top of the technology, and improve upon it as they see fit.

Obviously, Nuance, which owns the technology, would have to sign off on all of this. And we now believe that they have. Hence, the big time partnership that should be formally announced soon.

Apple can't build this stuff themselves, buying Nuance is too expensive, so they're licensing it and deploying it on their massive cloud so they can integrate it into [iOS 5]( and make SIRI-style voice recognition and "artificial intelligence" core to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch moving forward.

But here's the thing. Google introduced system-wide voice control in Android with the debut of the Nexus One, and so far it hasn't really gone mainstream. Last year, with iOS 4, Apple tried to mainstream video calling with FaceTime and... it's hard to say how successful it's been. It's by far the easiest video calling system released to date, usable by kids and grandparents alike... but who knows how much they use it?

Apple could make an incredibly simple, "it just works" voice control system as well -- MouthTime, so to speak -- but would you use it? Would your parents?


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple to announce Nuance partnership, data center integration at WWDC?


Are there any voice interfaces mainstream in computing? The telephones services provided by many big orgs (say what you want and the interface will respond as best as possible) are annoying at best.
VUIs all seem like some cool pretty scifi stuff, but there appears to be practical and human issues that may never be overcome.
Color me underwhelmed with all the voice, cloud and 3D stuff floating around. What we need is speed, speed, speed.

As good as iOS' Multi-Touch interface is, it's just an interim step until a robust voice interface is available. And that will allow iPhones to become smaller because they will have smaller screens.
Yes, smaller. Because there will be no need to display a virtual keyboard. You heard it here first.

Erm and how will that play into the apps field. Angry birds voice addition!? Somehow I think not. I certainly don't want to be shouting instructions whilst in the office,in bed whilst the kid is asleep, middle of a meeting...... U get my drift.
The virtual keyboard is less important as a visual tool to me compared to screen real estate which will allow me to view/manipulate emails, games and information.
Screens will not get smaller... You heard it here (not first, as most other people would agree with me)

I've been waiting for speech to text and system wide voice control for min. I could really use it I hope all this comes to life.

"buying Nuance is too expensive"
Really? You really think Apple would even be able to do that? Nuance isn't one of those little start-ups you know...

I just realized the iPad doesn't have voice control, what about the touch, is it missing on there too? Not that it matters, it doesnt work.

How lazy do they want society to be !?! Is swiping a 3.5" screen really that hard or time consuming that we need to start talking to our phones ? What about if your in a board room or a rock concert how will you use it then ? Epic fail !

Please remember nuances quality RELIES on an internet connection. Their living language database cannot REASONABLY fit on a phone, especially with all languages included

I use Skype maybe once a week on my iPhone 4 or iPad 2 for business, and I could certainly see that increasing as friends and family get more into the idea. I've never used Facetime as Skype is far more convenient...although we'll see what happens with the MS acquisition!
By contrast, I've not yet found a voice interface that makes me want to use it at all regularly, but maybe Apple will change that. The normal issue is that it's a faff, unreliable, and I get more and more irritated with errors. If it 'just works' then maybe that would be different...and Apple is the King of 'just works'. So hopefully they'll only bother to do it if they can get a really good user experience out of it - and then I'm interested!

Why would they need Nuance technology in there center and have the information put back to them it's just commands on the phone why would any connection to a data center or cloud be needed?

Just an opinion, I truly think that moving your finger is a lot easier than opening your mouth. I mean the effort from all the words that is coming out of your mouth is more energy consuming for me. I hope I’m not the only person who thinks this way. But I have to agree, it would be better if our gadgets will have speech recognition software, it gives you the freedom to use it whenever you feel using it, or not if you are a person so tired to talk.

Apple has 30 Billion dollars cash in hand, with no debt -- plus BILLIONS more coming in every quarter. Nuance has a market cap of just $6.5 Billion and is about 300 Million in Debt. They are NOT too expensive to buy - if that was Apple's intention.