September 26, 2011
It has been a couple of months since 9to5Mac began teasing us with information on an unreleased "Assistant" feature for iOS that Apple is keeping warm for the launch of the iPhone 5. Born from Apple's acquisition of Siri, the personal assistant app, and an alliance with Nuance, the new Assistant feature is rumored to be very similar, but built right into iOS and with more options. Today, in a well-timed post, 9to5Mac details what they claim is everything they know about it. Essentially, the new assistant feature will be your own portable version of HAL. It will allow you to interact with your iPhone using your voice and some fancy waveforms on your screen. That is, similarly to Voice Control right now, you'll be able to use a whole array of keywords and commands to interact with the core features of iOS. The exciting part about it is that your iPhone should be able to respond, and in a way, interact with you like an actual assistant. They point out the system's ability to find GPS locations, and take you places (which might suggest a built-in GPS navigation app), as well as setting up appointments and reminders. It's pretty much everything they have already said. The complexity of the feature will require an iPhone 5 to take advantage of it. The device, they report, will feature Apple's new dual-core A5 processor as well as, an entire 1GB of RAM. This will further allow for a much better experience with games, and browsing (your tabs will stay open longer). Whether 9to5Mac is presenting us with actual insider information is questionable. Yet, the picture they paint looks credible enough, and sounds like an obvious evolution of the iPhone hardware, mixed with a couple of months of exciting discoveries from Apple's developer tools. The hardware improvements, and especially an extended 1GB of RAM will be very beneficial, and really make your iPhone fly. As for "Assistant," while I'm ready to believe it exists, it sounds very gimmicky at this stage. Without a doubt, it will take a lot of Apple magic to make it a compelling feature, especially knowing the current state of voice recognition engines.