After a near-record seven beta releases, Apple seems to have finally begun to get the wheels in motion towards an official release. Staff members from various carriers retailing iDevices have started training with the new and improved software in an identical sequence of events which led to the release of the iPhone 4 and iOS 4 just last year.

It was instantly obvious from the Cheshire-cat smile plastered across Steve Jobs’ face during his WWDC ’11 stint that Apple’s iCloud would be a massive part of the company’s near-future innovation. Apparently, those being taught the ropes of iOS 5 are also being briefed on iCloud, which allows for wireless storage of content stored in your devices, keeping all devices in sync with each other as well as providing additional storage space in the cloud.

While iCloud is a separate entity from iOS 5, it does seem like the two will integrate with each other a great deal. There were rumors some weeks ago of an iCloud iPhone, which would be an entry level, possibly an 8GB device relying heavily upon cloud technology to compensate for the lack of that extra internal storage.

The carriers have been seeded the very latest version, newer than the iOS 5 beta 7 seeded to developers a week ago. One new feature to potentially look forward to includes FaceTime over 3G (that’s if you’ve not already been using 3G Unrestrictor or FaceBreak for the past year or so). Testing is currently a ‘high priority’, though it is still not yet known whether the feature will make the final cut, but we still have our fingers crossed for it.

Also, the Nuance speech-to-text feature has been included in this seemingly final beta. A similar implementation is prevalent on Android phones, and if you want a little taster, and you’ve a jailbroken iOS device, you can try VoiceKeys, which we featured last week. Sure, it’s a not-that-great replication of the Nuance software, which is polished and accurate according to the hands-on sources, but it if you’re even slightly impressed, then you will love the finished article.

With the carriers now being given full access to the nearly finished software, we do now appear to be on the home straight of the iPhone 5, iOS 5 debacle. Whilst it’s not time to reflect just yet, it will be a huge relief once Apple finally brings forth some officiality and we can lay the rumors to rest. It’s been a strung-out and a highly delayed process, and whilst it has been exciting to cover, there are only so many rumors we can read, concepts we can see, and prototypes lost in San Fran bars we can take.

(Source 9to5mac)

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