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Changes to Nuance developer program will result in a flood of voice enabled apps

The company behind the Dragon speech recognition applications for computers and iOS devices has announced a new developer program that will allow software to access Dragon Voice technology at no charge.

It could result in a tidal wave of apps that harness the power of the Nuance speech recognition and text to speech technologies. Many of our readers have no doubt used Nuance tech in apps like Siri, and Dragon Go.

I talked with Kenneth Harper, Senior Product Manager for Nuance, who says opening up the technology is a way to help Nuance become an even bigger standard in voice technology, as well as introduce developers to the company.

Harper says that the free developer service, called NDEV Silver, will apply to about 90% of the app developers for iOS. Developers will also have free access to Nuance's connected text-to-speech (TTS) capabilities in over 30 languages, bringing natural sounding text-to-speech in the cloud. Further, NDEV Silver members get access to Bluetooth hands-free voice applications.

For larger corporate customers, Nuance will offer higher levels of services at what they call the Gold and Emerald level, but even these services will cost much less than the previous developer programs Nuance has offered.

Harper wouldn't comment on how all this will tie in with rumored voice technology built into iOS 5 and new hardware that Apple is expected to announce soon, but since Apple now owns Siri, and has used Nuance technology in the past, it is likely there will be synergies.

Many developers will leap at the chance to add very sophisticated speech features to their apps, and iPhones are likely to get even much more useful.

The new developer program will also support Android and Windows Phone 7.

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