Following last week’s speculation of Apple negotiating a deal with voice-recognition company Nuance for future integration in iOS devices, TechCrunch reports today more details on the rumored collaboration between Apple and Nuance, which should be a major announcement at next month’s WWDC in San Francisco. According to the website, the partnership between the two companies goes as far as to allow Siri – previously purchased by Apple – to be integrated into iOS 5, using Nuance’s voice recognition technology in the backend. Siri, in fact, was based on Nuance’s tech while providing more information of its own, and since the acquisition last year Apple had to make sure Nuance would still license the software (they even hold multiple patents for it) to use in the future version of Siri – likely a native feature in iOS 5.
For this reason, TechCrunch speculates Apple may be already running Nuance’s tech on its servers in North Carolina, through the massive data center that should begin operations this Spring. With deals likely already inked ahead of the WWDC, Apple might want to pass information through their own cloud to make voice recognition faster for all users, scalable, and more secure.
In digging into the information about the relationship between the two companies, we had heard that Apple might actually already be using Nuance technology in their new (but yet to be officially opened) massive data center in North Carolina. Since then, we’ve gotten multiple independent confirmations that this is indeed the case. And yes, this is said to be the keystone of a partnership that Apple is likely to announce with Nuance at WWDC next month.
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.
Valued at over $6 billion, an acquisition of Nuance was quickly dismissed last week as an expense Apple wasn’t ready to consider, suggesting a partnership would make more sense in order to keep things running (in Siri and the future iOS integration) at a lower cost. The fact that Apple may be running Nuance’s tech on its own backend, however, seems to suggest that Apple has at least negotiated a way to get direct control of the service, which, again, should power the next version of Siri for iOS 5. TechCrunch speculates voice recognition will be one of the WWDC’s big announcements, although it’s unclear whether third-party developers will get immediate access through a series of APIs or not.
The WWDC kicks off on June 6, and Apple has already formally announced that they’ll unveil the future of iOS and OS X at the developer-oriented event. Voice recognition has long been in the rumors as a major new functionality of iOS 5 – alongside a new notification system, maps, and social services – which should be previewed next month and released this Fall at Apple’s usual September media event.