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.