Apple's iOS 5 beta 5 touts text-to-speech controls

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) seeded iOS 5 beta 5 to registered developers over the weekend, and multiple sources report the release includes the much-rumored Apple Assistant speech-to-text controls. Powered by speech recognition software firm Nuance Communications, Assistant leverages on-device and cloud processing to recognize natural speech instructions related to search, messaging and similar functionalities. MacRumors reports the Assistant interface is not yet functional, speculating Apple is still in negotiations with Nuance--sources also believe the new feature will be limited to the iPhone and iPod touch, although iPad support remains a possibility.

First unveiled in June during Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, iOS 5 heralds more than 200 new user features and brings 1,500 new APIs. It is first and foremost about seamless integration with iCloud, which replaces Apple's premium MobileMe offering. The iCloud service automatically syncs content on Apple servers for access across iOS devices as well as Macs and PCs--each day, iCloud Backup saves information from the user's iOS devices over Wi-Fi, storing content including purchased music, apps and books, as well as photos, videos, device settings and app data. In addition, Apple's App Store and iBookstore now enable users to download purchased iOS apps and books to all authorized devices, not just the unit on which they were purchased.

For the most part, the new iOS 5 beta 5 emphasizes bug fixes and related tweaks, although BGR states the release enables users to register multiple iCloud accounts to a single iOS 5 device. The beta also expands wireless sync capabilities to Windows users.

Last week, Apple quietly started approving App Store submissions compatible with iOS 5, suggesting the upgraded OS could formally launch as soon as next month. Cult of Mac reports that Apple has approved at least two iOS 5 updates: Version 1.5.4 of the Mashable! application explicitly cites "iOS 5 compatibility," while tap tap tap's Camera+ is more sly, indicating "compatibility with that upcoming OS That Must Not Be Named."

For more:
- read this MacRumors article

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