Apple in discussions with Nuance over voice recognition for iOS 5?

Apple in discussions with Nuance over voice recognition for iOS 5?

According to TechCrunch, Apple is in discussions with Nuance, makers of the widely popular Dragon Dictation voice recognition software.

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.

Apple previously bough the artificial intelligence app, SIRI, which initially relied on Vlingo technology but later switched to Nuance, however Apple has reportedly had trouble renegotiating the Nuance license. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak set off a flurry of rumors late last year when he casually (and presumably mistakenly) said Apple had already bought Nuance. (He likely meant SIRI).

A buyout would be expensive for Apple but a licensing deal would help them remain competitive in the device space -- Nuance co-founder Mike Cohen reportedly helped create voice recognition for Google, and Android is now well ahead of Apple in this area.

And the truth is that Nuance needs Apple too. Not only are they also threatened by Google, but Nuance technology is simply not very meaningful without apps that utilize it like Siri. And many of those apps are appearing guess where: iOS.

It's been rumored for a while that Apple will build SIRI into iOS 5 at the core level, and they might just need Nuance to make that happen. Whether that means an expensive marriage or an expansive partnership -- or nothing at all -- remains to be seen.


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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 in discussions with Nuance over voice recognition for iOS 5?


Kinda late in the game to be buying companies to then add their software to an OS that's supposed to be out in probably September, no?
But count me in on the "i'd love to have this" vote.

All this article proves is that apple cannot survive its battle with Android touting it has the largest app store forever. The time for small updates are done and apple needs to make major changes to the os, ui and functionality.
I, for one, say this is welcome news.

Voice commands are gimmicky, have always been. Like 3D, it´s one of those features that only looks good on paper. I hate to dictate commands to my phone, feel like a complete fool.

completely - a world where everyone is speaking commands into their phones on the tube and busses is a horrific idea. Great maybe for certain situations; when you're alone but otherwise,...

Voice Command is great when you're in a car.. trust me .. I voice text on my EVO all the time
and I also say Drive to "place" to get my google maps turn by turn started... it's great.. you're missing out.

I have to think this has greater implication than just voice commands--Nuance also has stake in (owns?) Dragon, and has made inroads to voice transcription. This is pretty big in medical circles, as practices and hospitals can eliminate transcription costs pretty quickly once the learning curve is mastered. And to have that type of technology and functionality on a multi-tasking device is the holy grail for practioners bent on efficiency.

God, I hope so. I have an hour's bike ride to work every day, and even with VoiceActivator it doesn't cut it.