It looks like we’re finally getting a picture of the long-rumored text-to-speech integration inside Apple’s mobile iOS 5 operating system as a pair of leaked images have surface showing the new voice-enabled feature. The functionality comes from technology developed by Nuance, and appears very similar to the text-to-speech functionality inside Android.
Instead of typing in a response to a text message or a keyboard, users can now activate the microphone icon within the keyboard and speak their messages. Presumably, the voice message would get transmitted to Nuance’s servers, get decoded and then sent back to the phone transcribed within the text entry field. As such, if this is the case, for speech-to-text, or SST, to work, an active Internet connection would be required to communicate with Nuance’s servers. The process would be very similar to Android’s implementation of STT.
When the user is dictating the message, a microphone overlay would be shown that would cover the screen.
Sources to 9to5 Mac say that the functionality is currently intended for smaller devices, like the iPhone and iPod Touch as these devices are more mobile and would probably be more affected by hands-free laws in the United States and other countries that prohibit the driver of an automobile from using or sending text messages while driving. However, the functionality could potentially make its way to the larger iPad as well and would give iPad owners another way of entering text. In Apple’s presentation of iOS 5 beta, the company highlighted that in addition to the regular keyboard on the iPad, iOS 5 would introduce a split-screen keyboard and this could be yet another way for users to enter text on their devices.
SST would join Apple’s Voice Control for using voice to navigate the iPhone and would represent the iPhone-maker’s push to user interfaces and experiences beyond touch.