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Apple's expanding voice control, sync teams hint at iPhone improvements

Apple is looking to hire new employees related to voice control and syncing for the iPhone, suggesting further enhancements in both categories for future handsets.

Three new job listings (1, 2, 3) discovered by AppleInsider seek employees for the title of "iOS Speech Operations Engineer." The iPhone maker is looking for an "exception Server Speech Engineer" that will work as part of the iOS Application Frameworks team at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

Preferred candidates for the jobs would have demonstrated experience with existing voice recognition technology like Nuance Recognizer, IBM WebSphere Voice or Google Voice.

The new job listings come less than a month after The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is working on enhanced "voice navigation" features for its next iPhone. The report claimed that Apple is working on a new, smaller, contract-free iPhone, but those details were later rebuffed by The New York Times.

Another three job listings pertain to iPhone and iOS sync technology. Two of the advertised positions (1, 2) are for a role titled "iPhone Sync Development Engineer," and seek candidates who are familiar with "system architecture, client/server systems and a strong understanding of threading and performance."

The third sync-related job listing is for the role of "iPhone Sync QA Engineer," a full-time role at the company's main campus in California. The advertisement on Apple's official job page notes that the new hire will be "testing sync functionality in Apple's innovative new phone."

Apple is rumored to be working on an overhaul of its cloud-based MobileMe service, which is used for syncing data across multiple devices including the iPhone. In February, The New York Times reported that Apple is considering making the MobileMe service free, allowing any iPhone user to have a "digital locker" of photos and music stored remotely.

And with its new lineup of MacBook Pros released last week, Apple also unveiled a new high-speed data port dubbed Thunderbolt, which allows for speeds of up to 10Gbps, fast enough to transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds. Thunderbolt could bring faster syncing and file transfer to mobile devices, offering speeds 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and 20 times faster than USB 2.0.