Siri is widely expected to make up a big part of Monday’s WWDC keynote (alongside iOS 10, macOS 10.12 and more) but it seems like it is already inadvertently tipping the hat on what is going to be announce. Brian Roemelle found that by asking the voice assistant about “windows” on his phone, Siri would start referencing the “Finder” app in its responses.
Obviously, iOS doesn’t have a Finder app but OS X does. It seems like Siri is unintentionally leaking the unveiling of Siri for Mac ahead of schedule, or perhaps even a brand new Finder app for iOS 10 …
Adobe first launched its creative Voice app for iPad almost two years ago, and this week version 2.0 has been released with full iPhone support for the first time. I took Adobe Voice for a test drive when it was brand new back in 2014. The app lets you easily combine photos, videos, text, voiceovers, and more to a project that you can easily share to spread your message. Stories can be shared either publicly or privately over Facebook, Twitter, email, messaging, the web, and more.
Adobe is out today with its latest app for content creators on the iPad. The new Adobe Slate app is available for free and joins the similar Voice app Adobe launched last May. Where Adobe Voice focused on using the iPad and later the iPhone for story telling with the spokenword backed by visual elements, the new Adobe Slate app pairs text with fluid and customizable attractive layouts that look great whether you’re a designer or not.
FreedomPop, the carrier offering free and cheap data plans on Sprint’s network, today announced that it’s bringing its free voice, data, and text plans to tablet users starting with the iPad mini and Samsung Tab 3. Since LTE iPads only support data over their cellular connection, the carrier provides iPad users with Apple headsets with mics for making calls and an app that routes calls/texts through its own VoIP platform.
While there are competitors like Skype that enable VoIP calling on iPads already, FreedomPop has a couple things going for it. The company’s CEO Stephen Stokols notes that “unlike some apps, we actually provision a new unique phone number and enable voice mail, number porting, etc, on it” …
If you’ve ever been using any form of Google voice recognition and gotten frustrated that the friendly female on the other side just can’t understand you, you may be happy to know that a quick command can now fix misheard words. Previously, you would have to start the query over completely, but the Google Search app can now fix its blunders on the fly using a natural corrective voice command.
For instance, if you’re trying to search for the nearest bars, you might say “find me the nearest bars.” Whether it’s your fault or a problem in Google’s voice processing, there’s a chance that the app might interpret your query as “find me the nearest cars.” Using the command “no I said” in a new search will let you replace just that one word. To fix the search, say “no I said bars” and chances are that Google will fix it right up.
Ultimately this is a great and useful update because it makes our interactions with the voice assistant much more natural. Every update that comes to both Google Now and Apple’s Siri seem to make these virtual helpers more and more human like, which in turn make them much more useable. This new feature works in both the iOS and Android versions of the official Google Search app.
Dominos announced today that its launching a new voice ordering feature in its iPhone and Android apps that is powered by Nuance’s Nina Mobile voice speech recognition, speech synthesis and natural language understanding technology. The company says the feature will provide “a human-like, conversational customer service experience that allows users to speak an order and quickly add items to their cart.” Imagine opening the app and placing your order by saying, for example, “I’d like a large pizza with extra cheese, pepperoni and onions” or “I’ll take a 14-piece order of Hot Wings”.
“There will be a day where typing on keyboards or with thumbs on mobile devices will come to a close; we want to be the ones who continue to advance the technology experience – hand-in-hand with our customers,” said Patrick Doyle, Domino’s Pizza president and CEO. “Our mobile app users who are a part of this launch are truly helping set the foundation for the innovations of today, that will soon enough become the standards of tomorrow.”
The platform, in partnership with Nuance, will redefine technology convenience – and puts Domino’s at the forefront of an intuitive ordering method that is a true first within both traditional and e-commerce retail.
With the updated app rolling out today, you’ll also be able to browse menus, coupons and navigate through the app using your voice. The feature rolls out in beta today and is available in the updated Domino’s Pizza app for iOS now.
Google has updated its iOS search app to version 4.0, which introduces a variety of new and useful changes. The app now recognizes new voice search cues and conversational input similar to the way Siri works. For example, Google says you can ask the app “What’s the weather like?” and follow up with “How about this weekend?” to get results relevant to the weekend rather than the current day.
The app will now also alert you when you new articles on certain topics appear. The feature is powered by Google Now, which learns your favorite authors, blogs, and more to provide you with customized alerts.
Finally, a few other changes to the app include faster loading, cricket sports data for Google Now, and an updated images search page.
Google Search is available for free on the App Store. The full change log is below:
What’s New in Version 4.0.0
With today’s update, you can ask questions with your voice & get updates on topics you care about.
Have a smarter conversation with Google:
• Tap the microphone or say “Ok Google” to start
• Ask questions such as “What’s the weather like?”
• Then follow up with “How about this weekend?”
At Google, we know the web well. With Google Now, we’ll tell you when there’s an interesting article for:
• Your favorite topics
• Your upcoming trips
• Your favorite authors and blogs
Smaller updates include:
• Cricket sports cards in Google Now
• Faster loading of Google Search and Google Now
• More beautiful and fluid image results
Adobe is out today with a new app for iPad that leverages the use of multimedia and speech to create simple and creative animated videos. The app is called Adobe Voice (it may look familiar to you if you recall Ginger) and the creative software company thinks it can make you a better story teller using your iPad. Adobe Voice combines the use of narration, photographs, text, and iconography with a number of templates which include music to create a really neat experience for making crafty videos. Check out my experience (and videos) below.
Google releases ‘Android Wear’ SDK developer preview, watches from LG, Moto & others due next quarter
Ahead of the release of Apple’s much rumored “iWatch” wearable product, Google has now officially announced Android’s entrance into wearables with project “Android Wear.” The Android Wear SDK allows developers to integrate a number of features into Android powered wearables and relies heavily on Google Now functionality, as we were first to report late last year.
Google also confirmed that it’s working with a handful of partners to bring Android Wear powered wearables to market by later this year:
Just about everyone in the tech industry is talking about the $19B Facebook/Whatsapp deal, so what better time to announce new features coming soon to the service. TechCrunch reports that WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced at Mobile World Congress today that the app will gain voice calling functionality sometime in Q2 of this year:
“We use the least amount of bandwidth and we use the hell out of it,” he said. “We will focus on simplicity.” Voice will come to Android and iOS first and then following on some Nokia and BlackBerry phones, he added.
The report adds that WhatsApp will also soon be working with some carrier partners:
While WhatsApp, as an OTT service, may appear like one of the companies that is attacking carriers, it is also working with them. The first partnership will be with e-plus to offer special tariffs to access the app, Koum said today. Interestingly, disrupting the current mobile communications economy has put WhatsApp right back into the kinds of services that built out that economy in the first place — in today’s case, voice.
Facebook of course already offers voice calling in some countries, but it’s unclear if the new WhatsApp feature will be integrated with the Facebook voice features. WhatsApp already offers users the ability to send short recorded voice messages as pictured above).
Despite the plans for new features, Koum reiterated that, “There are no planned changes and we will continue to do what we set out to do, even after the acquisition closes.” That, he said, includes “no marketing.”
An Atlanta woman has come forward to CNN as the U.S. voice of Siri, the built-in “personal assistant” first introduced in the iPhone 4S. Susan Bennett says she first discovered that her voice was being used on Apple’s smartphones when a friend emailed her and asked if it was her voice on the iPhone commercial. She headed to the Apple website to discover that she had unknowingly provided the voice for the system with samples she recorded in July of 2005, a full six years before the phone’s launch.
With the iPhone 4S launch nearly two years ago, Apple introduced the Siri voice control system to its customers. At launch, Siri was a gimmicky feature at best, being released with bugs, a highly-computerized voice, sluggish content loading, and unreliable servers. In addition, Siri of 2011 was short on user compatibility, only launching with knowledge of English, French, and German. Apple certainly did not deny the early issues with Siri: the company launched the product in “beta,” a tag that has remained on the software ever since.
Since 2011, Apple has been slowly improving the service. In early 2012, Siri gained support for Japanese, and with iOS 6 in late 2012, the service added support for several new languages and capabilities. With iOS 7, Siri has been given a redesigned user-interface, new functionality, and all-new voices. Many of the server errors and lengthy processing time issues that riddled the product in its early days have now disappeared; and it seems that Apple agrees. With the upcoming launch of iOS 7, it appears that Apple will finally be taking Siri out of “beta.”
Late this past week, Apple updated its Siri webpages to drop all references to the product being in beta. Prior to this past week, the bottom of the Siri informational page read:
Google brings voice back to Gmail w/ new group chat features, free calls to US & Canada from other countries
When Google rolled out its new unified Hangouts messaging service, some users were disappointed that the new experience within Gmail removed the ability to place free calls within the US and Canada. Google previously confirmed that the feature would be returning and today it announced on its Gmail blog that it is rolling out the free calling feature to Gmail Hangouts and also adding some new features.
Google announced today on its Chrome blog that a new update will soon be rolling out to its Chrome app for iPhone and iPad that will allow users to access voice search features previously limited to the Google Search app. Using the same omnibox currently included in the app, Google will soon allow users to tap a microphone icon to search using only their voice with a UI similar to the recently redesigned voice search on Mac.
Google said the updated Chrome app should be landing on the App Store in the coming days.
Google also noted that the updated iOS app would provide faster reloading of web pages and an option for third-party apps “to open links in Chrome and then return to the app with just one tap.”
Earlier today Google began rolling out revamped voice search functionality in the Chrome app for Mac users.
Earlier this month we noted that Apple was asking courts to add the Galaxy S4 as an infringing device in its ongoing patent dispute with Samsung in California. Now, Apple has officially filed a motion (via FossPatents) outlining five patents infringed by the Galaxy S4 and another two Siri related patents infringed by the device’s Google Now voice controlled search feature.
Apple had previously claimed that the Android Google search box feature on Samsung devices infringed the same patents, but is now moving to have Google Now included alongside the S4. Excerpt from Apple’s filing below:
During its Google I/O keynote earlier this month, Google announced that it would be bringing conversational, Google-Now like voice search to the desktop. Using a UI similar to voice search and Google Now in its mobile apps, Google would soon allow Chrome users to search and drill down further into results using only their voice.
Today, Google appears to have finally started rolling out the feature for Chrome users on the stable and beta channels of Chrome.
After updating to the latest version 27.0.1453.93 of Chrome, users can navigate to Google.com, click the microphone icon, and choose to allow the new Google Voice search feature to begin listening. Google will only ask for permission to listen once and from then on users can simply speak in order to search. For certain search results such as questions Google will also provide audible results.
Not all of the functionality seems to be available as of yet. For example, when Google first showed off the feature users weren’t required to click at all. Google execs were activating the feature by simply saying “Ok, Google” and were able to continue searching with their voice, hands-free, from on the search results page. The feature as it’s currently implemented now requires users to click the mic icon in order to start a voice search.
Google today announced that it is revamping the Google voice search feature available in Chrome on the desktop. While users have always been able to search with their voice through Chrome, Google is attempting to make the service work more like it does through Google Search apps and Google Now on mobile devices.
Chrome will now include “conversational search” with a brand new interface that doesn’t require users to click in order to search with their voice. Like on mobile devices with Google Now, users will now be able to simple say “Google” in order to activate voice search.
Today, we previewed what this conversational experience will look like in Chrome on your desktops and laptops. Soon, you’ll be able to just say, hands-free, “OK Google, will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?” and get a spoken answer. Then, you’ll be able to continue the conversation and just follow up with “how far is it from here?” if you care about the drive or “how about Monterey?” if you want to check weather somewhere else, and get Google to tell you the answer.
The new interface, as pictured above from Google’s demo of the feature, is much like the voice search interface for Google Now on Android devices.
The new feature will be coming to Macs and PCs through Chrome soon.
Google also briefly showed off some new content coming to Google Now including new cards for Reminders, Music Albums, TV Shows, Books, Public Transit, and Video games rolling out today:
We knew from leaks in the weeks leading up to I/O that Google was planning some gaming related announcements and today the company has officially announced the service in a press release ahead of its Google I/O keynote taking place now. Not only will the service allow Android developers to build in real-time multiplayer, social features, achievements, and leaderboards while storing game saves and settings in the cloud, the SDK for Google Play game services will also be available to iOS and web developers.
Google noted a few titles for Android have already been updated with the feature including World of Goo, Super Stickman Golf 2, Beach Buggy Blitz, Kingdom Rush, Eternity Warriors 2, and Osmos.
Not surprisingly, the cross-platform gaming service will also build in Google+ integration to track high scores, achievements and more:
-Achievements that increase engagement and promote different styles of play.
-Social and public leaderboards that seamlessly use Google+ circles to track high scores across friends and across the world.
-Cloud saves that provide a simple and streamlined storage API to store game saves and settings. Now players never have to replay Level 1 again.
-Real-time multiplayer for easy addition of cooperative or competitive game play on Android devices. Using G+ Circles a game can have up to 4 simultaneous friends or auto-matched players in a game session together with support for additional players coming soon.
Google’s full press release below:
What’s New in Version 3.0.0
Get just the right information at just the right time with Google Now.
• weather and traffic conditions before you start your day
• updates on your favorite sports teams and breaking news stories as they happen
Find out more about all other ways Google Now can help at http://www.google.com/now
Google is also working to bring some voice functionality to its desktop website. While Google Now has a voice component that has been compared to Apple’s Siri on many occasions, the essence of the feature is truly to provide timely, location based information.
If Nuance gets its way with the just announced ‘Voice Ads’ mobile advertising platform, soon every mobile ad could include Siri-like functionality that lets you communicate with and ask questions about the product being advertised.
Nuance, the company behind the voice recognition module now used in Apple’s Siri, today announced a new project to bring its voice recognition technology to the mobile advertising world. The basic concept of the new platform, which Nuance made available through an SDK for advertising companies, is to bring a two-way, interactive conversation to mobile ads. As highlighted by Nuance in the video above, ads that implement the Voice Ads platform will allow users to engage in a Siri-like conversation with an advertisement:
Nuance Voice Ads gives mobile advertisers and creative agencies an opportunity to go beyond the limitations of the four-inch mobile device screen and create a conversation with consumers through the power of voice recognition. Voice Ads finally creates an opportunity for brands to deepen the relationship with their consumers, with targeted interactive ads that deeply engage their core audience – much in the way that the world’s most popular mobile personal assistants have deepened consumers’ relationship with their mobile phones.
In the demo above, Nuance shows an advertisement for a fictional deodorant brand that uses a magic 8-ball theme to answer any question that users might have. The ad of course ends in a pitch for the product in question, as you might expect. Other ads could allow users to ask specific questions about a product’s release date or specs…
AFP reported Apple is in court in Shanghai, China again today, but this time it’s over a lawsuit alleging the company copied components of Siri’s speech recognition software. According to the report, Shanghai-based Zhizhen Network Technology Co. claimed in pretrial proceedings that Apple infringed its patent related to voice recognition technology via Siri. While the suit notes that development of Siri began in 2007, there is no mention of Nuance. Apple currently partners Nuance with to implement the speech recognition component in Siri, and it is also a market leader that presumably has its own arsenal of speech recognition related patents.
Zhizhen says it patented its “Xiao i Robot” software in 2004, while Apple’s Siri, which made its debut with the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, was first developed in 2007.
“The company will ask Apple to stop manufacturing and selling products using its patent rights, once Apple’s infringement is confirmed,” Si Weijiang, a lawyer representing Zhizhen, told AFP.
“We don’t exclude the possibility of demanding compensation in the future,” he added.
The company is behind Siri-like software called ‘Xiao i Robot’ that it claimed was first developed before Siri in 2004. The technology is apparently available on some smart TVs and enterprise applications, but it doesn’t appear to be available as a consumer-facing app for smartphones or tablets. The video below appeared online when the company originally filed suit against Apple last year, and it shows the Xiao i Robot software running on a Lenovo smartphone:
Popular third-party Android browser Dolphin made its way to the App Store in August of last year bringing highly customizable gestures, built-in translations, and a dock-style sidebar for quick access to tabs, bookmarks, and speed dial. Today, developers MoboTap Inc. pushed out an update to the iPhone app that, among other new features, introduced voice search functionality called “Dolphin Sonar.”
Dolphin Sonar is super easy to use and can do almost anything. Instead of typing, tap the microphone at the bottom left or just shake your phone (because who doesn’t want an excuse to do that!). Then say what you want to say and Dolphin will do the rest… use your voice to search the Web, find exactly what you’re looking for on sites like Facebook or eBay, bookmark your favorite website, and (like a real Dolphin!) use Sonar to navigate. Ask Dolphin to search on Facebook or create a new tab…all without having to type a single letter.
Other additions to the update include the return of the URL keyboard “by popular demand,” new search engine options to switch between four default settings, three font size options for browsing, and the ability to dim the screen with a single tap using “Night Mode.” Like the default Safari browser, Dolphin will also now save images directly to your iPhone’s photo album. You will also get the usual stability and performance enhancements when you grab version 4.0 of the Dolphin browser on the App Store (iTunes link).