Why is Apple hiring Nuance engineers? Apparently to replace Siri’s Nuance-powered backend

Nuance, the company that originally created the backend for the Siri mobile app that would later become the built-in virtual assistant in the iPhone 4S, has powered the speech recognition for the service ever since it launched. However, a new report suggests Apple may be looking to replace the company’s technology with a newer, faster system that could provide more accurate results.

A new Wired report cites several recent Siri-related Apple hires as evidence that the company is working on something big for the system’s next update. This isn’t really a new idea: rumors have been swirling since 2011 that Apple was investigating its own speech-to-text solution. That same year, Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky (not to be confused with current Siri Speech Manager David Winarsky) told 9to5Mac:

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iOS 8 code shows iPad split-screen, Maps transit in the works; Health interface changed late in development

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In the several months leading up to Apple’s 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference, we reported on several features on tap for iOS 8, the new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system, and OS X Yosemite. Many of the features we reported on were announced last week: improved messaging, revamped notifications, various user-interface enhancements, indoor mappingiCloud improvements for end-users and developers, Shazam in Siri, Voice Memos improvements, the redesigned Mac interface, multi-resolution mode for Xcode app testing, and of course, health-tracking integration. But some of the reporting did not become official last week. Namely, the Healthbook name, various improvements to Apple’s controversial mapping software, and a split-screen iPad multitasking mode.

Let’s go through each feature one-by-one.

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Coming in iOS 8: WiFi calling, Tips app, FaceTime call waiting, iBooks preinstalled, much more

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There’s a lot of new features coming in iOS 8 that you might have missed during Apple’s presentation today. Apple briefly flashed the slide pictured above and in it listed a bunch of new features that it didn’t talk about in length or at all during its keynote. Some of them include a “Tips app”, panorama on iPad, WiFi calling, FaceTime call waiting, rich text editing in Notes, iBooks preinstalled, and accessibility improvements like multi-device support for MFi hearing aids and the ability to exit Guided Access mode using TouchID. Read more

Apple announces new Siri features, including Shazam integration and “hey, Siri” always-on mode

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As expected, Apple has announced new Siri features for its iOS 8 mobile operating system, including the ability to analyze and identify songs automatically with recognition powered by Shazam. You can also purchase iTunes content directly from Siri, and dictate text in 22 new languages.

Also included is a feature that recently hit the iPhone through a jailbreak tweak that allows you to summon the iPhone’s assistant by saying “Hey, Siri.”

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iOS 7.1 code indicates Apple working on Siri for Apple TV

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Code found within the iOS 7.1 SDK suggests that Siri is headed to the Apple TV in future. Pierre Blazquez first found the reference on Friday. 9to5Mac has since confirmed that the code does exist in both iOS 7.1 and iOS 7.1.1′s files. The reference does not exist in 7.0.6.

The file is a supporting property-list resource for Assistant (Apple’s internal name for Siri), containing information about the feature. The UIDeviceFamily array declares what platforms are compatible with the feature.

As shown by Apple’s documentation, ’1′ and ’2′ represent the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad families. The ’3′ represents the Apple TV family.

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New Steve Jobs email a treasure trove of information about Apple TV, Google ‘holy war,’ and behind-the-scenes strategy

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A new email from Steve Jobs that was published during today’s Samsung lawsuit (via The Verge) has revealed a lot about Apple’s plans for its products in 2011 and beyond. As we’ve previously noted, Jobs referred to 2011 as a year of “holy war” against Google, but this document goes above that and describes how exactly Apple planned to wage this war.

A few choice bits are below, followed by the complete email.

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