The next iPhone’s release approaches, and Monday, a new report claims to already have a pretty complete picture of what Apple’s next smartphone has in store. Its biggest difference, according to an extensive profile by 9to5Mac, may not be any hardware feature. Instead, the Siri-based “Assistant” system-wide software could steal the show.
The profile does include hardware details, though none are unexpected, based on previous reports: The new iPhone will sport a dual-core A5 processor, an 8-megapixel backlit camera sensor for better low-light photography, and Qualcomm network chips that allow for world phone capabilities (connections to both CDMA and GSM networks). The iPhone 5 will reportedly get 1 GB of RAM, too, according to 9t05Mac, which is double that of the iPad 2.
But the real story is what that extra processing muscle will supposedly support. The blog claims that Assistant, Apple’s system-wide voice-activated technology based on its Siri acquisition, will require that 1 GB of RAM, along with the dual-core A5, to do its job. And what a job it is.
According to 9t05Mac’s sources, Assistant will replace Voice Control, and expand considerably on that older software’s limited feature set. It’s more responsive than Voice Control, too, and works from the lock screen. Assistant comes with an “Info” button to help you with its impressive command set, but basically, you directly ask your iPhone for information or tell it what you want it to do using natural language. Some examples of what it can do, according to the sources, include sending text messages (complete with read-back proofing to make sure the content is correct), sending emails, finding directions and even getting results to math questions through Wolfram Alpha integration. Assistant will also be able to get better at all of this using a conversation view that literally looks like a messaging interface and keeps track of your clarifications and qualifications for the commands you issue to the software.
Assistant will also reportedly come alongside Find my Friends, and integrate with that other new feature. Find my Friends is thought to be an extension of Find my iPhone which allows you to voluntarily share your location in real-time with other iOS device users. Assistant will be able to tell you where your friends are if they’re using the service, in response to simple questions like “Where is Jeff?”
The sources also say “Dictation,” a Nuance-based text-to-speech feature for composing text messages, will also be introduced in iPhone 5. Overall, it sounds like Apple will be focusing a lot of its redesign on making the iPhone much more responsive to speech and spoken commands.
The one thing 9t05Mac doesn’t seem to be sure about is the new iPhone’s appearance. Its sources claim next-gen prototypes look like iPhone 4’s, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, since Apple has been known to disguise new models in older casings. Looks aside, if Apple can further voice-based mobile tech as much as it sounds like it could, the new iPhone should be a winner.