AT&T's Speech Mashups is a web-based service that will bring voice-activated search to the iPhone, as well as other Edge and 3G handsets. Instead of managing speech recognition on the actual handset, Speech Mashups sends the audio sample to the server, processes it and sends back a text transcription or command to your phone. Unfortunately for iPhone owners, this does not mean voice dialing or speech-to-text app support. Not at all.

AT&T is not currently planning to use this tech to manipulate current iPhone apps (Contacts? Maps? Mail?) but instead will deploy it in web services for a number of net-enabled handsets. This is a somewhat curious choice for AT&T, but it would be difficult to implement system-wide speech recognition without either modifying existing apps or running a (currently disallowed) background service to catch commands. Speech Mashups will be an interesting service for the other handsets it shows up on, but they already have simple voice commands. By building secondary voice capabilities like this for a phone without basic ones, AT&T has inadvertently highlighted one of Apple's most irritating restrictions on iPhone development. [Gadget Lab]