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Signs of Siri for iPad found in latest iOS beta

The latest developer build of iOS 5.1 suggests that Siri could be headed to devices besides the iPhone 4S in the near future.

Siri's dictation feature on the iPhone 4S.
Siri's dictation feature on the iPhone 4S.

Apple's voice assistant, or at least its dictation feature, appears destined to end up on another iOS device besides the iPhone.

Amid the tweaks found in the third build of iOS 5.1, which was doled out to developers yesterday, there's mention of dictation--the feature that lets users talk to their device and have their words transcribed into text.

As spotted by 9to5Mac, the mention arrived as part of the settings menu called "About Privacy and Dictation," which did not appear in previous betas bound for iPads and latest-generation iPod Touch devices.

The outlet notes that there's no actual dictation button on keyboards of devices with the build, which registered iOS developers must sign a nondisclosure agreement to use.

Dictation first appeared in October, with the release of the iPhone 4S. Almost identical to what competitor Google offered with version 2.1 of its Android OS in early 2010, it pipes over speech to Apple's servers, where it's transcribed and sent back. The feature is systemwide, meaning that any app that makes use of the keyboard does not have to do anything to enable it.

This could be the first sign of a software feature bound for the next version of the iPad, which is expected to be unveiled in the next few months. So far, Apple has offered no indication of Siri or its dictation feature making it to older iOS devices. A widely reported correspondence with an Apple engineer in November had the company saying "we currently have no plans to support older devices." The month prior, developers took matters into their own hands, managing to port the feature to a jailbroken iPad. However, they ran into problems getting Apple's servers to reply to voice commands--something for which they eventually found a workaround.