Rumors have been flying that Apple has entered into some kind of agreement with speech recognition company Nuance. Now Patently Apple has published an Apple patent that shows a possible use for Nuance's technology in the iPhone.
The patent covers text-to-speech and speech-to-text conversion. In the patent, Apple lists two ways it might be hard for someone to answer their phone in the usual way: communicating in noisy environments and being unable to communicate during a meeting. In the first situation Apple says the user might try shouting to overcome the noise, but shouting frequently renders the voice signal unintelligible. Likewise in a quiet environment, such as a meeting where the user doesn't want to disrupt what's going on around him, he might try whispering into his phone, but again whispering frequently renders the voice signal unintelligible.
Apple proposes to get around these limitations by running text-to-speech and speech-to-text conversion on the fly. Instead of shouting or whispering into the phone in a noise or quiet environment, respectively, the user could type a text message while live on the call and it would be read aloud to the person on the other end of the line.