And yes, any character younger than Kirk could be a completely different individual with a familiar name, "altered" because of Nero's meddling. Uhura, too, appears different: she now is a cunning linguist rather than a switchboard operator, and is romantically interested in Spock - although whether thanks to different body chemistries or just slightly different career histories, we don't know.
Actually Uhura has routinely been portrayed as an expert linguist in Trek tie-in literature. As with her first name Nyota, it's something that's been accepted conventional wisdom about the character for generations and was finally made canonical in the film. We do know from "The Changeling" that she's fluent in both Swahili and English, at least.
As for her romantic interest in Spock, see their scenes together in "The Man Trap" and "Charlie X." There is definitely
a canonical basis for that relationship. The movie didn't add anything to Uhura's character that wasn't potentially there. It just gave her development she was never given in the original show.