TiPb Asks: What do you want from iOS 5 voice control?

Screenshot of speech to text activation found in iOS 5 beta 5 hidden keyboard

I'm really looking forward to the new, system-wide "Assistant" voice control system Apple's rumored to be including in iOS 5. From the leaks, it looks like it might be implemented similar to Android -- a microphone button on the keyboard that you press to tell your iPhone or iPad you want to talk to it, then it takes your voice command or text entry, sends it to Apple's servers, and either does what you told it to do or types the text you told it to type.

Currently iOS takes very simple commands like "call" or "play"... and I almost never use it. Holding down the home button for a few seconds then waiting for it to beep and be ready just seems... slow. I'm not sure if the microphone button will be any better, honestly. Now if Apple figured out some way for it to be quietly waiting for a special code phrase that I could say to make it wake up and start listening, that would be sweet, but the technology, especially the impact on battery life, probably isn't there yet.

It should at least be far more functional that the current system. With Apple's purchase of Siri and the rumors of their Nuance (the makers of Dragon Dictation) deal, I expect I'll be able to do much more, like:

"iPhone, get me a taxi at the corner of Sherbrooke and Crescent." "iPad, make me a dinner reservation at Gibby's at 8pm tomorrow." "iPod touch, take a note -- bug Seth on the podcast tonight. So say we all."

Will it work well enough and smoothly enough that I'll actually use it? That I don't know.

What are you looking for in iOS 5 "Assistant"? Would something like Android's existing implementation be enough? What's your realistic assessment of what Apple can deliver, and what's your totally unrealistic hope?

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Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Reader comments

TiPb Asks: What do you want from iOS 5 voice control?


I just hope it works in all applications including 3rd party ones. I don't use it in its current implementation either. With a dual core processor and 1 gig of memory in iPhone 5 it should work very well.

My unrealistic hope is that I would've able to speak any control on the screen in any app. Then I could control the navigation apps using voice while driving.
It would also be cool to be able to say something like "open Pandora" "play station XYZ".

I want it to be sarcastic and talk back to me if my demands are unrealistic.
"I'm not your wife, you imbecile! Get your own damn coffee!" :)

I would just want it to work, I say something to it and it will start to call people. Dunno if its because I speak English with no accent ie English accent.
However it does make me laugh when I say 'what song is this?' and it says back 'calling...'

I don't use all of the voice commands (mostly just text message, email, call and map) available on my Android phone, but I use voice to text all the time. It's a huge time saver, and if Apple can get it to work as conveniently and accurately as it has in the last couple versions of Android, I might consider getting an iPhone 5 rather than holding out for the next Nexus phone.

you guys dont seem to be monitoring the comments...this posts are all over the place in tipb...annoying

give me a "texting" voice-to-text control. Say "Text Mary Smith, message: leaving now, see you at 6". the killer app to solve the killer texting-while-driving problem.

I have had an EVO 4G and an Epic and while both had voice control, it was absolutley useless at understanding my voice!
There were so many inaccurate words with the Android OS I opted to just never use it. It took far more time to correct the errors than to type it in the 1st place!
I hope the voice integration in iOS5 is more accurate.

Were you talking with your mouth full? I use it on Android all the time and it works beautifully. It's never going to be good enough to understand the Micro Machine Man or Shy Ronnie when Rhianna is in the room, but it works well for most normal people.

I just want it to actually work, and understand what I'm telling it. For example, I got sick & tired of telling it to "call so-&-so," and it decides to call someone completely different, or play a song, or something else unrelated. That's why I never even bother trying to use it anymore. So if Apple would get it to work, that'd be a good start.

Excellent idea. I couldn't even count how many times that's happened to me, and I've had to tell people (over the speaker, of course), "Not now, I'm driving. I'll call when I get there." This would come in really handy.

I'd be happy even if the functionality was simple, if it actually worked well. For example to tell it to open text messaging, then tell it who to address the text to and finally dictate the text message.... That would be a win for texting while driving :-p (which none of us ever actually do)

Don't get me wrong here, but I don't get what the big deal is with voice control... Like, everyone is making a big deal about it but I don't really see why it's that great? Am I missing something here?

I think you are... On Android I can hold down a search button and say "Navigate to [address]" and it will bring up maps and set me on my way. It's amazing how many key strokes that is to do by hand.

I simply am looking forward, or shall I say hoping, to voice my text messages while driving.

What I REALLY want is for my iPhone to announce the caller through Bluetooth, so I don't have to take the phone out of my pocket or look away from the road to see who's calling. My old Windows Phone did that - why not iPhone??

The ability to open an app by voice, the ability to text with your voice and the ability to say a "Find 505 Richmond Ave" in Google Maps and it be able to pin it on the map.

I'm not into getting into flame wars, but some android users find the feature useful. As a current android user, previous ios user, wanting to make the switch back, this is one of the features that I would hate to be missing.