iPhone 5 could pack improved voice-control tech called Assistant

The iPhone 5 looks set to feature improved voice control, and a feature called 'Assistant' that will be able to understand complicated voice commands.

Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
2 min read

It would seem Apple has serious ambitions for voice control in iOS 5, and is ready to make it a key feature of the upcoming iPhone 5.

Apple blog 9to5Mac has spotted something in the iOS 5 software development kit (SDK) and spoken to sources who reckon the iPhone 5 will have a feature called 'Assistant' that lets you control just about anything on the phone using just your voice -- from phone calls to texting, and perhaps even more sophisticated requests.

Apple bought a company called Siri in April last year, which made an app called Siri Personal Assistant. This app let you make crazy requests of your phone, such as "find me a romantic restaurant near my house" and the app would figure out what you meant, then give you results for lovey-dovey eateries close to your domicile.

Clever stuff. The iOS 5 SDK contains the warning, "Assistant uses your voice input and other information like your contact names, song names, and location to understand your requests. This data will be sent to Apple to process your request and to improve Apple products and services."

We were distracted by the annoying Oxford comma for a second, but that certainly makes us think the plan is to bake the Siri voice control tech into the iPhone 5's operating system. It means you could make weird voice demands of your mobile, such as, "Help, I've covered my linen suit in ketchup and the wedding is in 5 minutes, oh God," without having to open a specific app.

It all sounds a bit too good to be true, but if it works it could deliver a genuine wow factor which, after all, is generally how Apple markets its products. 9to5Mac says its sources reckon the tech might not be ready for the iPhone 5's launch though, which is expected to occur sometime in the next two months.

It's also possible that the Assistant app is held back from other versions of the iPhone, as a sweetener for the new iPhone 5.

Are you intrigued? Would you rather hold a conversation with your phone than with your friends or family? Or are you concerned this lets Apple know a little too much about your life? Let us know in the comments section below, or on our Facebook wall.