A long-overdue overhaul to Apple’s iPhone voice commands may arrive with the next version of iOS, at least according to the rumor mill.
Nearly two years have passed since Apple introduced voice commands for the iPhone, allowing users to place calls and play music by holding the iPhone’s home button and speaking. But next to Android’s extensive list of voice commands, which includes the ability to dictate text messages, e-mails, and addresses, the iPhone’s voice support looks primitive.
That may change with iOS 5, now rumored for the fall. Last year, Apple acquired Siri, a personal assistant app that can look up things to do and places to go, along with weather and travel information. It draws on your history, relationships, and location to refine its queries, and most importantly, it responds to voice commands. According to TechCrunch, Siri’s technology is now being integrated deeply into iOS.
If that’s the case, iOS’s voice commands will be more than a simple list of orders to bark out. It’ll be more like artificial intelligence that happens to respond to voice.
That would certainly raise the stakes against Google, but to really get ahead, Apple’s system will have to play nice with third-party apps. Android’s “listen to” command, for instance, works with Internet music services such as Pandora and Rdio. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler is less clear on this point, saying his information on third-party app support “isn’t quite as concrete.”
Rumors about upcoming iOS features are always a crapshoot, but given how dated the iPhone’s voice commands have become, I doubt Apple’s going to let the issue linger. Expect voice commands to become a big battleground for the iPhone and Android.