Will Apple include voice messaging capability with the iWatch?

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A voice-messaging app could become a defining feature for Apple’s rumored iWatch smartwatch, UBS Securities analyst Steven Milunovich said in a research report Tuesday, while another analyst raised his price target for Apple stock. Much of the discussion around Apple’s expected wearable device has been focused on applications for tracking health and fitness. Health monitoring apps are still seen as an important selling point for the iWatch, but voice messaging could be just as big, Milunovich says. At its Worldwide Developer Conference in June, Apple introduced voice messaging capabilities to its Messages app in iOS 8. With iOS 7, a message can be dictated, but it is sent and received as text. With iOS 8, users can touch a new microphone button and record a voice message, then swipe the screen to send it, Milunovich says.

Citing a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook, an analyst released a report on Wednesday predicting iOS 8’s new voice messaging feature could trickle down to a long-rumored “iWatch” wearable device, noting the gesture-based messaging technique is ideal for small-screened devices. In a research note issued on Wednesday, UBS analyst Steven Milunovich described the recent meeting with Cook, saying Apple’s chief is keen on Chinese-style voice messaging that allows users to dictate messages to their phones before sending them off, reports Fortune. The analyst believes that porting such a feature to a wrist-worn device “makes sense.” “When we visited with Tim Cook, he said that walking down streets in China one sees people speaking into their phones sending voice rather than text messages,” Milunovich writes. “It also could aid penetration of China, which Cook said has a ways to go.” While Apple’s current iOS 7 features speech-to-text dictation, it does not have voice messaging functionality built in. Third-party messaging apps like Facebook Messengerare quickly incorporating the feature, however. In the next-generation iOS 8, Apple includes voice messaging technology in the Messages app as an alternative to traditional text-based input. Current beta builds of the forthcoming mobile OS let users record a voice message with a single tap-and-hold gesture, then send it or cancel by swiping, a method that would be of use on a device like a wearable.

 

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