The latest Beta of iOS 5 released to developers includes a microphone next to the virtual keyboard, enabling users to tap it and begin speaking text that will appear on the screen. A screenshot of the functionality was sent to 9to5Mac by “a reliable source,” according to the site.
That source also said that speech-to-text is planned only for the iPhone and iPod touch at the moment. While the screenshot above implies that the feature will be provided via licensing from Nuance, which makes Dragon Dictate for Mac and Dragon NaturallySpeaking for Windows, the 9to5Mac article doesn’t say anything about such a deal. However, Nuance has been mentioned in rumors in recent months, with speculation tha Apple would either license speech recognition functionality from the company or even buy it. In early 2010, Nuance purchased MacSpeech, which had licensed the Dragon engine for MacSpeech Dictate, which is now known as Dragon Dictate.
As always, caveats apply: this is Beta software, so the final version could drop this feature, or it could appear in a different form when iOS 5 is officially released this fall.