iPhone 5's Killer Feature May Be 'Assistant'
Apple’s Assistant—if the reports are true—could be an enormous leap forward in voice control and the must have feature of the upcoming iPhone.
Assistant uses Nuance’s voice recognition technology in more ways than the previously reported voice-to-text function added to iOS 5’s keyboard. Assistant is a cross program voice control platform allowing users to handle a bevy of tasks by simply speaking.
9to5Mac dumped a truckload of information from an unnamed source explaining all the abilities of Assistant. First, Assistant will only be available on the iPhone 5/4S. Apparently Assistant requires the power of the new iPhone's A5 processor and 1GB of ram to work. The iPhone 4, 3GS, and 3G just wont cut it. Or Apple doesn't want them to cut it, and give consumers another reason to upgrade. However, it is unclear if the increased ram is necessary and the iPad 2 will miss out on Assistant.
Rummaging through the rest of the supposed details 9to5Mac was given paints a picture of an incredibly effective, and powerful feature. Assistant is activatd by holding down the home button for a few seconds, and the feature even works from the lock screen. The number of commands seem infinite, but a few examples show just how intuitive and smart Assistant is. Users can simply say “make appointment with [insert name] for 10:00 p.m. on Thursday,” and assistant will create an appointment in that user’s calendar. The obvious integration is with Maps and getting places. Users need only ask their phone “How do I get to [insert place],” and Assistant will use the phone’s current location to map the corresponding route.
While these are very simple speak and create functions, Assistant has a conversation component as well. Assistant will be able to speak back and forth with users, albeit in a limited capacity. If a user says “set up a meeting with [insert name]” Assistant will promptly ask “which email address should [insert name] be notified at, work or personal?” All of the back and forth conversation appears as text bubbles in the conversation thread on the Assistant screen.
The coolest integration though is with the Wolfram Alpha online computer knowledge system. Users can literally ask assistant how many meters are in a mile, a math problem or any other bit of information and get a spoken response from Assistant. Also, the rumored "Find My Friends" feature of iOS 5 takes full advantage of Assistant. You literally can ask "Where is Tim?" and Assistant will find Tim, given he has the right privacy settings activated on his iPhone.
If Assistant works as well as reported in 9to5Mac’s story the next generation iPhone might be a must-have even if there isn’t a considerable design change.