updated 10:15 am EDT, Mon August 15, 2011
Should work with Mail, Contacts, Calendar
The Assistant voice technology buried in the iOS 5 firmware will be largely dependent on Siri technology, not Nuance's, a report suggests. The codebase, including a portion that asks to "authenticate with Siri server," is said to show that Nuance's technology will only be used for voice recognition and speech-to-text functions. The core of Assistant is believed to be the Siri technology, which will actually translate voice commands into system functions.
Files found in iOS 5 hint that featurewise, Assistant may mirror the Siri iPhone app, which dates back to before Apple's acquisition of the company. Assistant should be able to access the Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Phone apps, going well beyond the music- and dialing-related commands supported by Apple's VoiceOver technology. It should also be able to tap into location data, and support all iOS 5-capable devices.
How and when Apple intends to premiere Assistant is still uncertain. For whatever reason, the feature isn't live in the current iOS 5 beta. Apple may be holding it back to coincide with the introduction of a new iPhone, generally expected in September.