Apple patents speech-to-text, text-to-speech feature for iPhone

Apple-speech-to-text-patentA recently filed Apple patent application suggests that the company plans to bring speech-to-text and text-to-speech technology to the iPhone, reports Patently Apple. The new technology would reportedly make it easier to chat in a noisy location, or to send voice messages without uttering a peep.

As Patently Apple points out, the text-to-speech functionality will be particularly useful for anyone trying to have a conversation at, say, a concert or in a noisy restaurant. The patent shows that the “far-end user” — the person receiving the call — can either choose to have the feature turn on automatically anytime the phone’s microphone detects noise above a certain threshold when a call comes in, or turn on the feature manually for each call.

Once on, the user’s text messages would be converted in to voice for the other person, who may be on a landline or not have a text messaging plan. Also, the patent shows that users may be able to pre-record messages that can be played to the person on the other end of the line to tell them they can’t talk at that moment.

Another scenario is that the person receiving a call my turn on the speech-to-text functionality, which would turn the voice of a caller immediately into text, which would make it far easier to have conversations in quiet settings, like a meeting or a library.

The patent filing, published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark office, follows rumors that Apple is in talks with Nuance Communications, maker of the popular Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech-to-text app, to develop speech recognition software for iOS.

Based on these two reports, it would seem as though Apple is headed full steam toward a future when we use our iPhones much differently than we have in the past. Which would make sense, since the iPhone itself sparked a whole new era for cell phones and helped get us to where we are today.

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