[Update] Next iPhone Centred Around New Voice Navigation System Called ‘Assistant’


Update 1: It appears TUAW also received a similar tip involving details noted below, with other notes that indicate AirPlay Mirroring could be coming to the iPhone.

The next iPhone has been rumoured to include upgraded hardware from the iPhone 4, such as the dual-core A5, 1GB of RAM, 8MP camera, but the main selling point will be a new voice-powered navigation system called ‘Assistant’, according to 9to5Mac.

Below is a description Assistant, according to sources:

Assistant is literally like a personal assistant, but in your phone. The speech interpretation is so accurate that users do not even have to speak very clearly or in a slow and robotic tone, according to a source familiar with the software. Users can simply talk how they would usually talk to another person, and the iPhone with Assistant will do its best to interpret the speech and provide accurate results.

Assistant will allow users to speak various commands, such as the ability to send an SMS or iMessage, and to play specific songs with Voice Control. The feature will interact with users like Voice Control, to ensure accuracy.

Another feature, ‘Find my Friends’ will allow users to ask Assistant where friends are, and locations will be shared based on privacy settings.

If that’s not enough, Wolfram Alpha and Nuance’s speech-to-text integration are also included, turning your iPhone into one giant resource of information.

Aside from the software revealed, no details were mentioned whether the next design would resemble the iPhone 4, or be completely redesigned.

Only Apple could pull something like this off, as it would be another ‘giant leap’ ahead of their competitors, that tend to rely on hardware specs as major selling features. If ‘Assistant’ can truly pull off and master a complex system-wide voice navigation for iOS using a ‘normal’ speaking voice, that would be an incredible feat. Sure, we’ve had ‘voice dialling’ on our old candy bar Nokias, but let’s get real–this is next level stuff. If ‘Assistant’ is exclusive to the next iPhone 4S/5 as reported, that right there would be the selling feature of the next phone, aside from just upgraded hardware.

Would you upgrade from an iPhone 4 to take advantage of new hardware and ‘Assistant’?


  • JformK

    One of the reasons I wanted to move from a BB to the iPhone was the cool voice control, which a friend of mine was demoing to me one day.  Thought it was cool I could hit a button and tell it to play a song or an album.  But after getting the iPhone I found I never used it!  Will be interesting to see how this new voice assistant works, perhaps it’ll be worth using?!

  • Voice Control works well, but it still has some room to get ‘perfect’ by Apple standards. If Assistant is a home run, I can see it becoming a huge feature as nobody has yet to perfect voice technology on a phone. I would compare it to Apple making FaceTime so easy and accessible.


    Did you try the voice control on the Samsung Galaxy S2 ? It`’s speechless.

  • Anonymous

    Like every other software feature artificially limited to certain hardware by Apple, jailbreakers will have this on older phones very quickly.

  • True, but I wonder how the older hardware will affect performance. Try using iMovie on an iPhone 3GS versus iPhone 4.

  • Anonymous

    iMovie runs like a dog even on a 4 (really, video editing on a single core computer is a pain, let alone a phone!).  I expect this will be more like how Voice Control ran on a 3G when the 3GS came out (acceptable).

  • The problem lies with memory eaten up by apps ‘frozen’ in the multitasking tray. If all apps are cleared iMovie runs much better. But aside from that, the next iPhone must come with more RAM.

  • Anonymous

    Funny you should say that.  Jobs says if you need a task manager, they “blew it”, but I couldn’t live without the Processes button in SBSettings and Remove Background.  The Home button is broken on my 4 (2 weeks after warranty expired, how’s that for planned obsolescence?), so it’s the only way I can manage my tasks.  Even on a fresh reboot, with the tray cleared, I still find iMovie painfully laggy, although the results are pretty good if I’m patient enough to get them.

  • Yeah, for memory intensive apps there is lag because apps never close! My home button is also not working properly, but I believe this is an issue related to iOS 5 beta, and not hardware.

  • Anonymous

    Won’t let me reply to your last reply.  You need a proper forum here (or do you have one and I’m just unobservant?).  I used Activator to set a short hold of Up Volume to simulate a Home button press, and I’m pretty happy with that.  I dunno if Activator works on iOS5 (haven’t tried any of the betas, since I depend on ultrasn0w), but if it does, that might be an option.

  • Anonymous

    I use the current voice control on my iPhone all the time, so this voice assistant thing really intrigues me. Especially with this newly implemented distracted driving law in Alberta!

  • xxJDxx

    This would be huge!! This is the obvious next interface revolution, taking us further into the world of sci-fi. Would make sense too given apples hatred of, and criticism for lacking, a physical keyboard…

  • Morgan

    Don’t get me wrong, I do think apple has the ability to hit Assistant out of the park, and would provide me with a good excuse to upgrade from my 4. Maybe this is just me though, but am I the only one who thinks FaceTime is a complete piece of garbage? Sure the concept is a good one, but whenever I’ve used it, it was glitchy, and slow, and poor video/audio quality compared to the video chat functionality in Skype. Plus Skype is cross platform whereas FaceTime is apple only. (Thanks for lying about that one Jobs)

  • FaceTime has worked pretty well for me, it does depend on your connection. But yeah, Skype is probably the best at optimizing network data for superior call/video quality. The advantage FaceTime has over everyone is the seamless integration with your Apple ID, one tap initiation.

  • Ex


    I’ve used FaceTime maybe three times in the last 14 months.

  • Those were the initial ‘tests’ we did back when it was announced. You haven’t used it since??

  • Ex


    No need for it. Skype on the other hand I use daily.

  • Yeah, but how many of those people are real? 😉

  • Ex

    I’m not sure what you mean? Maybe we can keep the comments on topic?

  • Anonymous

    I agree it’s quite good, definitely the best I’ve used. It still has a long way to come though and does confuse things. I think one of the biggest problems with speech recognition is accents. I would argue my Galaxy S2 is extremely accurate for navigation and commands. Speech to text for SMS is still meh. I expect apple to at least match the quality of the Samsung or surpass it. It’s good to see competition here as this tech still needs improvement.

  • Anonymous

    The only thing that would put them ahead of their competitors is “system-wide” as you said. Accuracy in a normal voice is the second thing. As it stands now the best voice service in phones seems to be exclusive to some features such as navigation, music, calls, dialing etc. I have an app on my droid that is quite good at near system-wide, but it’s optimized to crap and is buggy. IF apple pulls off something like it, it’s gg.

  • Murving

    I have no issues with Facetime and use it regularly. I find the quality superior to Skype in every way.

  • Alex

    A lot of people are getting multitasking and the “tray” of apps theory incorrect. The apps sitting in the tray are merely “bookmarks” of where you left off last, much like the tabs on a browser (of which there maybe 30 to 40+ apps over time). If those apps are using any processing, it would be so small that it’s not worth talking about.

    Now the apps that are actually using processing power and are ACTUALLY running in the background can be seen using the SBsettings app using the Processing button. You will notice that only about 4 to 6 (at least in my case will be running, including the phone and mail app). I’ve heard of a LOT of people running around closing down the “tray” of “bookmarks” thinking it’ll save them some processing. It just doesn’t work like that.

    BACKGROUND: It was designed to work this way for many reasons including the elimination of processing power/battery usage. Many purists have argued that the “tray” of apps are not true multitasking…which in some sense is true. However, I believe that there will eventually be only so much room for batteries in a phone that is getting thinner and thinner and battery conservation will be paramount. The phones that use pure multitasking will require more power and will hit a physical limit or their phones will remain bulky. Apple is doing the right thing with this in my opinion.

  • Bumblebee07beeotch

    Did apple update for fix there “maps” or navigation? I love the iPhone, BUT that’s probably what i hate the most about the iPhone. It really is bad. I just don’t know if they updated it or not.