As jailbreak aficionados are quick to point out, the stock version of iOS isn't the most customizable mobile platform out there. Certain hooks are simply unavailable to App Store applications, while users of Brand X phones can take advantage of third-party tools to enable face unlock (or, if they're among the 7.1% of the installed base running the up-to-date Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the built-in face unlock feature).
If you want to go all Sneakers and have your voice be your passport on your handheld device, however, your choices are more limited. Voice authentication has been around for a long time (it came to the Mac back in OS 9, for you graybeards) but reliability and side noise concerns have kept it firmly on the sidelines for phone access.
That's why Nuance's announcement today of the new Dragon ID framework is so interesting. The leader in voice tech is offering its underlying "voice biometrics" magic directly to Android OEMs with an eight-language kickoff, and more languages expected this year. Device manufacturers that license Dragon ID will be able to offer quick login, customized app launchers/home screens and more with just a brief passphrase uttered by the owner. Nuance already claims more than 20 million enrolled voiceprints for its technology, used by businesses and government agencies to provide voice security.
Nuance isn't yet saying anything specific about iOS integration for Dragon ID -- "We aren't providing details yet, but we're in discussions with several of the top OEMs," was the word via the company's PR rep -- but then again, it doesn't have to advertise its intimate relationship with Apple's mobile offerings (and prudence dictates that it oughtn't do so, in any event). Aside from its standalone dictation, search and notetaking apps, the key voice-related patents and technology owned by Nuance are known to be the chatty power behind Apple's flagship iPhone 4S feature/beta test, Siri.
Speculation only at this point, but.... Given the timing of the Dragon ID announcement, and the Star Trek factor of having a phone that permits or denies access with the sound of your voice, it's easy to imagine that Apple will carve out a bit of iOS 6 time at WWDC to show off an oddly similar feature to Dragon ID.
Here's a video demo of the unlocking technology from Nuance:
[hat tip to Phonescoop]