June 12, 2011
The Chronic Wire, in a tip revealed by MacStories earlier today, has a few screenshots from Apple's internal iOS 5 build. This version differs from Monday's developer seed in that it includes hidden features accessible only by Apple employees and select developers for field-testing purposes. The leaked screens go a long way towards validating earlier theories about Apple's close work with Nuance Communications in integrating the latter's technology across iOS, and, while Cupertino didn't announce the partnership this week in San Francisco, it's presumed that confirmation will come with the new iPhone in autumn. From the above grabs, it's evident that Apple is playing with ways to implement Nuance's system-wide service, utilizing keyboard shortcuts to toggle speech-to-text functionality and voice-recognition. The method Apple seems most focused on, as you can see, is a spacebar-hold to initiate said vocal interaction. In theory, I have to admit it's a pretty good idea and would be quite useful in composing notes or texts without the need to be totally focused on the device in your hands. What all the other new keyboard options may be, we're not yet sure, though the Emoji settings lend even more credence to the expected default iOS inclusion of the cutesy Japanese character set. Stay tuned for future Nuance news and updates.