The partnership between leader in speech recognition, and text-to-speech software Nuance, and Apple has been well documented in recent weeks. In the latest build of OS X Lion released to developers Apple has incorporated (pictured above) Nuance's technology into both iOS 5 and Mac OS X.
Below are some links to what the new improved text-to-speech function in Lion will likely sound like.
- Nuance Mei-Ling Mandarin Chinese Female
- Nuance Felix French Canadian Male
- Nuance Alda Swedish Female
- Nuance Tom US English Male
- Nuance Moira Irish Female
When comparing these voices to the voices currently available in OS X the differences are stark. Current OS X users can choose between voices like "Bubbles," and "Ralph." All are extremely robotic sounding, and have no regard for vocal intonation. Builds of Lion showing off the menu pictured above will allow users to choose between a bevy of regional accents. These voices are much more natural sounding, not only in intonation, but also in the natural rhythms of speech. This doesn't mean they're not discernable from a real human voice, but it is a large step in the right direction.
Apple has definitely struck a licensing agreement with Nuance, because at $45 a pop, these accents don't come cheap. It will be interesting to see how Apple presents these advancements in speech-to-text, and voice recognition technology to consumers once they're available in final builds of iOS 5 and Lion.