May 9, 2011
One thing few people saw coming is now coming to light, as Apple and Nuance Communications have allegedly agreed to terms allowing the former to host the latter's software (and possibly hardware) at its giant North Carolina data center. While Apple's interest in and pursual of Nuance is no secret, the fact that the data center is going to play such a large role in the matter slipped under everyone's radar. Rather than purchasing Nuance outright (which would have cost far too much and devalued the brand almost immediately), Apple seems to have come to amicable terms with the industry-leading voice recognition company. By hosting the service itself, Apple is primed to offer faster processing for iOS users without having to send data to third-party servers, and can presumably work with and modify the technology as befits demand. (The acquired Siri team's expertise may come into play in this final regard.) MG Siegler's insightful article on the topic at TechCrunch wraps up with an interesting point:
The next question is what this will mean, if anything, for developers at WWDC? Will they get access to this advanced voice recognition technology through iOS APIs right off the bat? Or will this technology mainly serve Apple’s own applications at first?Time will certainly give us the answer, but -- going by Apple's history of inching towards preparedness -- it's a safe bet that, in the immediate future, the roll-out will apply only to first-party apps and system functions. Developers will probably be given beta access to the new iOS capabilities thereafter for integration into their own apps. Hopefully, this lends credence to the notion that iCloud services will extend to developers and users alike. It is important to remember that none of this is official yet. However, we expect a formal announcement of the partnership at next month's WWDC event.