Apple's Voice Control technology could be getting a big intelligence upgrade in the next major version of iOS, which is expected to be unveiled at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
A report posted last last night by TechCrunch says that Apple plans on "deeply integrating" the voice technology from Siri, a company it acquired last April. Such integration could possibly include APIs for developers to hook into the technology and use it in their apps, the report claims.
Siri's technology, which was first unveiled in early 2009, uses a mix of natural language processing, semantic Web search, and speech recognition to translate voice queries into Web search-based tasks. The service billed itself as a virtual personal assistant. It also continues to be offered as a standalone iPhone application.
Apple has made use of voice commands as part of its iOS since the iPhone 3GS, which was the first device to get Voice Control. The technology can listen to user voice commands to make phone calls and control music playback. Hints that Apple has been planning to improve it have been numerous, from patents to job postings.
Competitors like Google have effectively leapfrogged Voice Control on its Android platform, building a cloud-powered voice tool into phones that is also able to launch and control applications, do Web searches, and transcribe voice into text. Microsoft has brought forth similar efforts on its Windows Phone 7 platform, making use of its own voice processing technologies.
No word yet on whether such an upgrade will trickle down to older iOS devices. With the original Voice Control system, only iPhone 3GS owners could make use of the technology, leaving original iPhone and iPhone 3G users behind. However, if this somehow ends up playing into the company's advertising efforts, it's likely there could be a trickle down effect as there was with the iAds platform.