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Could 'Assistant' be iPhone 5’s game-changing feature?

Could 'Assistant' be iPhone 5’s game-changing feature?

The series of leaks surrounding the iPhone 5 suggest the next-gen Apple phone will be an iterative, yet somewhat uninspiring boost. It’s iOS 5 that’s really caused all the excitement.

But last week’s news about a new voice-control ‘Assistant’ feature suggests the new phone could have some surprise, exclusive software when it launches in the next couple of months.

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The premise, detailed by 9to5mac, is simple. The iPhone will use functionality bought in by Apple when it purchased assistant app Siri last year. The offering will be deeply integrated into the iPhone 5, allowing users to make appointments and reservations using speech-to-text smarts.

A video of Siri’s app details how its app can base searches on current location and book events around other appointments in users’ calendars. Apple is reportedly looking to add a Genius-style ability to aggregate info from the iPhone to make requests remarkably targeted.

The suggestion is that the Cupertino-based company will use this technology to take the fight to Google Android’s Voice Actions feature, all while giving it a typically Apple spin.

It’s all very sharp and suggests that this could be a big deal when Apple finally pulls the wrappers off of its next iPhone. In fact, it could be the game-changer for Apple’s new phone, finally making voice recognition a more mainstream activity.

Yes, it’s already widely available, but it appears that Apple’s user-friendly approach to it could make it more appealing to the masses. This is the same way Cupertino looked at FaceTime this time last year, even if the video calling function was hardly the iPhone 4’s greatest achievement.

You can bet that if Assistant is finished come the time Steve Jobs struts on stage and shows off the iPhone 5, Apple will be singing from the rooftops about it. It will doubtless say it’s better thought-through than its rivals and that it helps maintain the iPhone’s must-have status.

Whether that’ll be the case remains to be seen, but this is definitely the most exciting rumoured feature on the new iPhone 5. Processing power and a beefed-up camera are all well and good, but this really could make the iPhone an even more exciting prospect than it already is.

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