Apple’s Carrier Partners Get Closest Build of iOS 5 with Speech and Facetime 3G

Just days after Apple Store employees started their internal training of Apple’s upcoming iCloud and iOS 5, Apple’s global carrier partners have begun their own version of the process. According to participants, the training largely mirrors the training that occurred soon before last year’s iOS 4 launch alongside the iPhone 4. Interestingly, these major carrier partners’ support divisions are also being trained on iCloud.


The new build iOS 5 has several additional features enabled including Facetime over 3G and the speech-to-text features that we have previously talked about.

The carrier partners have been instructed to test Facetime over 3G extensively, raising hopes that iPhone users will soon be able to use Facetime anywhere they have a data connection. This doesn’t mean that we will be seeing Facetime 3G in the final release, of course, but it does mean that carriers are at least being encouraged to test it on their networks.

This iCloud training demonstrates Apple’s push of both iCloud and iOS 5 as integrated products. After all, many of iCloud’s unique features are iOS-device based and many of iOS 5?s cornerstone features rely on iCloud connectivity.

This build of iOS 5 is said to be a newer one than the one available to developers currently, which is beta 7. Currently, Facetime must be used over WiFi connections only, limiting its usage as you are normally around a computer when you’re on WiFi and can use higher quality services like Skype.

The training materials are said to have been developed with Apple’s assistance and include both detailed video and PDF-based explanations. With these carriers already training, we’re thinking that official news from Apple on the subject is imminent.

The Assistant feature would allow users to perform a variety of system-wide tasks using voice input, but the sources say that it does not appear in the build pushed to carriers. This could mean that it is not going to make an appearance, of course, but it may also mean that it is simply being refined further internally before being released for external testing.

Separately, Apple’s most prominent carrier partners have been seeded near-final builds of iOS 5 for final testing. This build is newer than the betas seeded to developers and includes some unique features. According to a source testing this build, FaceTime over 3G is active. According to this source, testers are being instructed that 3G FaceTime testing is a high priority. What is still up for disussion, though, is whether or not this feature will reach end users in iOS 5.

iOS 5 is the next major revision to Apple’s software for iPhone, iPod, Apple TV and iPad devices. The new OS is slated for release in the fall of this year. You can see our complete rundown of the iOS announcements at WWDC here. We’ve also got a closer look at some of the features of iOS like iMessages, Twitter, Setup and Notification Center, iCloud and alerts.

In addition, this near-final iOS 5 build in late carrier testing includes the Nuance Dictation speech-to-text feature we first revealed screenshots of and detailed. According to a source testing the feature, it works almost identically (video above) to the Android operating system’s speech-to-text feature. It’s also very polished, quick, and accurate said the source – which is obvious for being an Apple product but also is indicative of the product being nearly complete.

One last thing… that iOS 5 system-wide Assistant feature we revealed and discussed on several occasions? It’s apparently not in this near-final build. Since the feature is confirmed to be in development, our only assumption is that iOS Assistant is an iPhone 5 exclusive. Or, Apple is keeping it from even their most important carrier partners until it’s officially announced.


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