Patents Hint of iOS 5 Voice Input Support

AppleInsider is touting a glimpse of how Apple's rumored voice control system in iOS 5 could work.

The details come from a handful of patent applications by Apple revealed this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. One, titled Adaptive Audio Feedback System and Method, describes current audio feedback systems as inefficient, with certain information not being appropriately conveyed. The solution, according to the patent, would be for the system to screen out repetitive data, such as the artist or album name in a list of songs and adapt its interaction with the user to suit.

The site explains "such a system would intelligently recognize that a user has already been presented with certain information in any context, and would spare them the need to hear it repeated once again. This could apply to menu navigation, alerts and prompts, and more, in a method referred to as 'stepping down.'"

This dynamic system would spare users the need to repeatedly hear the same audio prompts, claims AppleInsider, particularly if they are accomplishing a task with their iPhone that they are already familiar with: "shorter prompts are not only less bothersome to the user, but could also make hands-free navigation faster."

The second patent application, titled Processing of Voice Inputs, is concerned with delays in the response of the system of voice commands.

"Because of the time required to receive an entire voice input, process the voice input, and determine the content of the voice input, a particular voice input that a user provided in response to a first prompt can be processed and understood after the first prompt has ended and while a second prompt is provided," the application reads. "The device can then have difficulty determining which prompt to associate with the received voice input."

The solution proposed by Apple is one of setting dynamic time windows. These would be associated with system prompts, offering an appropriate window in which the user's voice input could be given.

"The time stamps or time ranges can be defined such that a voice input processed after a prompt ends can still be associated with a prior prompt," the application notes.

Apple's voice control plans have prompted something of a debate in the past. Back in September of last year Jonny Evans discussed the future technology from Apple's purchase of software by Siri. This lets iPhone users speak a service or activity they want to engage in and Siri will find local businesses and centres to serve the request.

And as AppleInsider points out, both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported earlier this year that Apple was working on improved voice navigation in mobile devices, with a claim that voice commands would be "deeply integrated" into iOS 5.

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