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Apple's expanding voice control, sync teams hint at iPhone improvements

post #1 of 21
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Apple is looking to hire new employees related to voice control and syncing for the iPhone, suggesting further enhancements in both categories for future handsets.

Three new job listings (1, 2, 3) discovered by AppleInsider seek employees for the title of "iOS Speech Operations Engineer." The iPhone maker is looking for an "exception Server Speech Engineer" that will work as part of the iOS Application Frameworks team at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

Preferred candidates for the jobs would have demonstrated experience with existing voice recognition technology like Nuance Recognizer, IBM WebSphere Voice or Google Voice.

The new job listings come less than a month after The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is working on enhanced "voice navigation" features for its next iPhone. The report claimed that Apple is working on a new, smaller, contract-free iPhone, but those details were later rebuffed by The New York Times.

Another three job listings pertain to iPhone and iOS sync technology. Two of the advertised positions (1, 2) are for a role titled "iPhone Sync Development Engineer," and seek candidates who are familiar with "system architecture, client/server systems and a strong understanding of threading and performance."



The third sync-related job listing is for the role of "iPhone Sync QA Engineer," a full-time role at the company's main campus in California. The advertisement on Apple's official job page notes that the new hire will be "testing sync functionality in Apple's innovative new phone."

Apple is rumored to be working on an overhaul of its cloud-based MobileMe service, which is used for syncing data across multiple devices including the iPhone. In February, The New York Times reported that Apple is considering making the MobileMe service free, allowing any iPhone user to have a "digital locker" of photos and music stored remotely.

And with its new lineup of MacBook Pros released last week, Apple also unveiled a new high-speed data port dubbed Thunderbolt, which allows for speeds of up to 10Gbps, fast enough to transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds. Thunderbolt could bring faster syncing and file transfer to mobile devices, offering speeds 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and 20 times faster than USB 2.0.
post #2 of 21
Just yesterday, following my car breaking down in the frigid Minnesota winter, I would've killed to be able to just press a button say, "find the nearest service station" without having to remove my gloves...

-Clive
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My Mod: G4 Cube + Atom 330 CPU + Wiimote = Ultimate HTPC!
(Might I recommend the Libertarian Party as a good compromise between the equally terrible "DnR"?)
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post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Thunderbolt could bring faster syncing and file transfer to mobile devices, offering speeds 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and 20 times faster than USB 2.0.

Faster syncing from iPhone to iTunes would be great. Especially when syncing photos, it's a bit slow currently.
post #4 of 21
There's really no reason why the iPhone shouldn't have full voice recognition support by now.
post #5 of 21
I just hope that OS X 10.7 (with it's built-in server software) and iOS 4.4 will be capable of wirelessly syncing my contacts and iCal events whenever my iPhone connects to my local WiFi network... Having to manually do this each time I make a new entry ensures I'll never use iCal for my day-to-day calendar.
post #6 of 21
I'd like to see voice recognition for adding events to calendar, among other things. Who wants to go through all those keystrokes to add a simple event like "dinner with Bob, March 10, 7 pm?" I just downloaded the dragon dictation app and it does a good job of recognizing speech, so it should be possible now. Get on it, apple!
post #7 of 21
Apple already bought Siri. That's a full voice control app on the iPhone. It would seem to me that they would have also acquired the talented people who created it and would already have a leg-up on voice control front. I use Siri often and it is great at what it does. I'm surprised they haven't done something with it by now. If they have, I haven't seen it.
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post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

There's really no reason why the iPhone shouldn't have full voice recognition support by now.

I think the main reason is that it doesn't really work that well and isn't anything of interest to the average person.

Shouting at your device and getting an 85% success rate is pretty much the pinnacle of voice control and that was achieved many years ago. It failed to sell computers, and it will probably fail to increase sales of iPhones as well.

Voice recognition is only of limited use in dictation, requires a headset, a very quiet environment and a bit of training. Again, this technology peaked roughly the 1995 to 1997 time frame, failed to do much to sell computers, and would be arguably useless on a mobile phone.

Both of these are add-on "gee-gaws" that are handy to have for those that want them. It's completely appropriate that Apple add them, but would be inappropriate if they had wasted a lot of time adding them previously. There are other much more important things than that.
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcode View Post

I just hope that OS X 10.7 (with it's built-in server software) and iOS 4.4 will be capable of wirelessly syncing my contacts and iCal events whenever my iPhone connects to my local WiFi network... Having to manually do this each time I make a new entry ensures I'll never use iCal for my day-to-day calendar.

MobileMe is far superior to doing it that way. Just make it free or nearly free and be done with it. Try it free for 60 days. You ain't going back to itunes sync.
post #10 of 21
I'm guessing the new syncing will be combined with the updated MobileMe, meaning that you will no longer need to tie your iOS device to a Mac/PC via iTunes. You will instead activate by creating or syncing to a MobileMe account, and your iOS device will perform all of its backups, etc. using MobileMe wirelessly.

I'm guessing it won't be a replacement for syncing to a Mac/PC, and you'll still be able to sync it to iTunes to get your music, videos, etc. (although if rumors are true and iTunes moves to the MobileMe cloud...). It would, however, make an iOS device like the iPad truly independent.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcode View Post

I just hope that OS X 10.7 (with it's built-in server software) and iOS 4.4 will be capable of wirelessly syncing my contacts and iCal events whenever my iPhone connects to my local WiFi network... Having to manually do this each time I make a new entry ensures I'll never use iCal for my day-to-day calendar.

this can be done already using gcal as the database. push iphone cal changes to gcal and ical syncs to that. contacts works the same way.

it seems a little late to be adding this kind of stuff for iOS5 , I'm hoping that iOS5 will have voice control with Siri throughout the system and they are looking to expand that to 3rd party sdks for later iterations.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post

I'm guessing the new syncing will be combined with the updated MobileMe, meaning that you will no longer need to tie your iOS device to a Mac/PC via iTunes. You will instead activate by creating or syncing to a MobileMe account, and your iOS device will perform all of its backups, etc. using MobileMe wirelessly.

I'm guessing it won't be a replacement for syncing to a Mac/PC, and you'll still be able to sync it to iTunes to get your music, videos, etc. (although if rumors are true and iTunes moves to the MobileMe cloud...). It would, however, make an iOS device like the iPad truly independent.

No doubt! I rarely connect my iphone or iPad to my Mac. Music syncing is really the only reason to. The key apps that need syncing (contacts and cal) sync wonderfully over MobileMe to all my devices withhout me doing a thing. It just works and I never have to give it a second thought.

Here is an example of something unusual that happened to me where MobileMe proved its worth. My iphone screen was a little yellow. I went to the apple store and they wiped it and put it in the rejects, then handed me a new iPhone. I punched in my MobileMe account info and by he time was out of the mall, all my contacts, cals, email, idisk, and mobileme gallery were all updated. I really believe MobileMe will become one of apple's surprise secret weapons in he coming year or two. Non-geeks don't want to be sweating this stuff--using kludges and an array of apps with different interfaces, passwords, syncing procedures, etc.
post #13 of 21
Yea,

This is one are where Android kicks the snot out of iOS.....

I use the voicce commands all of the time on my Droid and they work great. Being able to hit the mic in the keyboard and speak the text I want into almost any text input field is a great feature of Android...
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I think the main reason is that it doesn't really work that well and isn't anything of interest to the average person.

Shouting at your device and getting an 85% success rate is pretty much the pinnacle of voice control and that was achieved many years ago. It failed to sell computers, and it will probably fail to increase sales of iPhones as well.

Voice recognition is only of limited use in dictation, requires a headset, a very quiet environment and a bit of training. Again, this technology peaked roughly the 1995 to 1997 time frame, failed to do much to sell computers, and would be arguably useless on a mobile phone.

I disagree. I think it's really important if one is using a phone while driving. Some years ago, I had a Motorola phone that did voice recognition amazingly well. It wasn't perfect, but being able to say, "Call Jane" and having the phone come back and say "Home?" and replying "no" and then having the phone say "Cell?" and saying "yes" and having it dial was great. And although I don't text much, I could also see it being useful for that. And I would think that Apple would have the smarts by now to greatly improve over past execution.
post #15 of 21
Syncing is the one true missing feature from iDevices. I hope apple would at least enable wireless sync between iDevices, and iDevice to Macs. Then I hope apple would enable wireless sync with other wireless devices, such as bluetooth transfer of contact between phones that my wife's old samsung, which she couldn't stand, can do. And finally, I hope this syncing function isn't going to require a cloud service account, but can be done directly between devices.
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2 cents View Post

MobileMe is far superior to doing it that way.

While Mobile.Me works great for mail, bookmarks, calendars, contacts, passwords, etc. it still doesn't sync podcasts, apps, app data, my photos or back up my iPhone.

Apple seriously needs to break out the WiFi syncing for all of the above
post #17 of 21
I love my iPhone and Mac to bits but, oh lord, Apple can't sync !

I hope they get someone good.

Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I think the main reason is that it doesn't really work that well and isn't anything of interest to the average person.

Shouting at your device and getting an 85% success rate is pretty much the pinnacle of voice control and that was achieved many years ago. It failed to sell computers, and it will probably fail to increase sales of iPhones as well.

Voice recognition is only of limited use in dictation, requires a headset, a very quiet environment and a bit of training. Again, this technology peaked roughly the 1995 to 1997 time frame, failed to do much to sell computers, and would be arguably useless on a mobile phone.

Both of these are add-on "gee-gaws" that are handy to have for those that want them. It's completely appropriate that Apple add them, but would be inappropriate if they had wasted a lot of time adding them previously. There are other much more important things than that.

Voice recognition has improved a lot in recent years. I'm really stoked to see what Apple can do with Siri. It's an amazing application that would completely change the way I use my phone if they can integrate it properly.

You can do all sorts of cool stuff like:
-buy movie tickets
-get directions
-reserve a table for dinner
-Tweet
-set reminders
-check the weather

This is especially good for phones, since you're often on the go, in the car, etc. Imagine you're driving and realize that you haven't made reservations at the restaurant. It's pretty dangerous to look down at your phone, open Google Maps, type the name of the restaurant, tap the phone number and start talking. Instead, it might look something like:

*hold down home button for voice control*
"Table for 2 at Roy's Restaurant in San Francisco"
A table for 2 is available at Roy's Restaurant in San Francisco at 7 PM tonight. Would you like me to reserve it for you?"
"Yes."
Alright. I've booked a table for two at Roy's Restaurant at 7PM tonight. Is there anything else I can do?
"Give me directions from my current loation"
Sure. Continue on Highway 280 North for 6 miles. You will exit on 4th St in about 10 minutes.

You get the idea. It seems far-fetched, but I am basically just using my imagination to merge the existing Siri app with the simulated voice functions in OS X.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post

While Mobile.Me works great for mail, bookmarks, calendars, contacts, passwords, etc. it still doesn't sync podcasts, apps, app data, my photos or back up my iPhone.

Apple seriously needs to break out the WiFi syncing for all of the above

I like mobile.me a lot! It work seamlessly across four devices for me. The things it does, it does well. That said, I think allowing a wifi route for device to device synching rather than having to go via the cloud would be a great addition. Particularly if it retains the simplicity of mobile.me
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater017 View Post

Voice recognition has improved a lot in recent years. I'm really stoked to see what Apple can do with Siri. It's an amazing application that would completely change the way I use my phone if they can integrate it properly.

You can do all sorts of cool stuff like:
-buy movie tickets
-get directions
-reserve a table for dinner
-Tweet
-set reminders
-check the weather

This is especially good for phones, since you're often on the go, in the car, etc. Imagine you're driving and realize that you haven't made reservations at the restaurant. It's pretty dangerous to look down at your phone, open Google Maps, type the name of the restaurant, tap the phone number and start talking. Instead, it might look something like:

*hold down home button for voice control*
"Table for 2 at Roy's Restaurant in San Francisco"
A table for 2 is available at Roy's Restaurant in San Francisco at 7 PM tonight. Would you like me to reserve it for you?"
"Yes."
Alright. I've booked a table for two at Roy's Restaurant at 7PM tonight. Is there anything else I can do?
"Give me directions from my current loation"
Sure. Continue on Highway 280 North for 6 miles. You will exit on 4th St in about 10 minutes.

You get the idea. It seems far-fetched, but I am basically just using my imagination to merge the existing Siri app with the simulated voice functions in OS X.

your imagination is good, let's wait to see what comes in iOS5.
maybe they will bring something much better.

my way or the highway...

Macbook Pro i7 13" with intel SSD 320 series and 8GB RAM, iPhone 5, iPad 3 (Retina)

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my way or the highway...

Macbook Pro i7 13" with intel SSD 320 series and 8GB RAM, iPhone 5, iPad 3 (Retina)

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post #21 of 21
Maybe now when I say "Call Erin" my iPhone won't reply "Playing songs by Led Zeppelin".
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