Tag - Assistant
Google is altering the way it performs voice search queries to take on Siri and other competitors, becoming more conversational and assistant-like, with the upgraded Google Voice Search renamed Google Assistant. At the same time, it is attempting to fend off dedicated assistant devices, like the Amazon Echo and Alexa, confirming the rumors by announcing Google Home, a similar network-connected speaker device the company expects to ship later this year.
It's not fair to expect greatness from a $1 app. However, all this one manages to do is make you wish even more that Apple would bring Siri to the the Mac -- and maybe wonder if there are reasons why it hasn't. For Awa 1.2 aims to be the kind of voice control that Siri is for iOS, and as yet is not for OS X. It aims to be this, and it feels like the start of something that may grow and improve, but right now it just doesn't work.
There were intelligent assistants on iPhone before Siri, and there are now many of them on every phone, but Siri is the Hoover or Coca-Cola of them. It is the one you're talking about when you refer to speaking to your phone and getting sarky comments back. It's the one that has gone the further to making this Star Trek-like technology mainstream.
There must've been a day, perhaps even one specific hour, in which everything changed for the idea of Siri-like digital assistants at Microsoft. Up to this particular coffee break, Microsoft derided Siri as something nobody would ever use, and anyway it's just marketing hype. After washing up the mugs, it became the Microsoft derided Siri as not being as great as its own version, Cortana. Microsoft has done well with that impression: you expect Cortana to be better. Now Cortana 1.2.1 is on iOS, and we can see for ourselves. Short version: shrug.
Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant competing with Siri and Google Voice Search, is being made available on other mobile platforms than Windows Mobile for the first time. Following after a period of testing, Cortana is now downloadable on iOS with Android to follow later today and CyanogenOS support set to start from later this month, with the United States and China the initial launch countries that Microsoft is making the app available within.
Facebook is working on its own virtual assistant, usable within Facebook Messenger, according to a report. The social network is allegedly looking to compete with Siri, Google Now, and Cortana with a new assistant internally called "Moneypenny," a reference to the iconic secretary in the James Bond film franchise, though unlike its main competitors, Facebook is opting for more of a "concierge" approach, as well as focusing more on allowing users to acquire goods and services.
BlackBerry will include its own virtual assistant in a future version of the company's mobile operating system, the smartphone manufacturer has revealed. Taking its cue from Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, BlackBerry Assistant will recognize commands via voice recognition and entered text, and will be able to perform simple tasks such as searching e-mail archives or setting appointments, to more elaborate requests.
Microsoft will use data from Foursquare in its rumored virtual assistant for Windows Phone 8.1, thanks to a $15 million investment in the company, according to a report. The location data gleaned from Foursquare will apparently be put to use in "Cortana," a virtual assistant named after the artificial intelligence character from the Halo series of games.
Microsoft may be working on its own virtual assistant, in the same vein as Apple's Siri and Google Now. App listings that appeared in leaked screenshots for the next Windows Phone operating system release showed one item marked as "zCortana," something that is said to be a voice-controlled assistant that can automatically learn from its user.
Apparent new leaks have suggested Google is developing a very broad, multi-platform alternative to Siri. So far called Assistant, the concept TechCrunch saw would translate Google's search content into a "personalization layer" that would understand the relationships between data points. A voice-based recognition engine would, like Apple's system, focus on returning a key useful result or accomplishing a task, not just pushing a raw list of results.
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Cirrus creates Lightning-headphone dev kit
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic has introduced a MFi-compliant new development kit for companies interested in using Cirrus' chips to create Lightning-based headphones, which -- regardless of whether rumors about Apple dropping the analog headphone jack in its iPhone this fall -- can offer advantages to music-loving iOS device users. The kit mentions some of the advantages of an all-digital headset or headphone connector, including higher-bitrate support, a more customizable experience, and support for power and data transfer into headphone hardware. Several companies already make Lightning headphones, and Apple has supported the concept since June 2014. http://bit.ly/29giiZj
Apple Store app offers Procreate Pocket
The Apple Store app for iPhone, which periodically rewards users with free app gifts, is now offering the iPhone "Pocket" version of drawing app Procreate for those who have the free Apple Store app until July 28. Users who have redeemed the offer by navigating to the "Stores" tab of the app and swiping past the "iPhone Upgrade Program" banner to the "Procreate" banner have noted that only the limited Pocket (iPhone) version of the app is available free, even if the Apple Store app is installed and the offer redeemed on an iPad. The Pocket version currently sells for $3 on the iOS App Store. [32.4MB]
Porsche adds CarPlay to 2017 Panamera
Porsche has added a fifth model of vehicle to its CarPlay-supported lineup, announcing that the 2017 Panamera -- which will arrive in the US in January -- will include Apple's infotainment technology, and be seen on a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen as part of an all-new Porsche Communication Management system. The luxury sedan starts at $99,900 for the 4S model, and scales up to the Panamera Turbo, which sells for $146,900. Other vehicles that currently support CarPlay include the 2016 911 and the 2017 models of Macan, 718 Boxster, and 718 Cayman. The company did not mention support for Google's corresponding Android Auto in its announcement. http://bit.ly/295ZQ94
Apple employees testing wheelchair features
New features included in the forthcoming watchOS 3 are being tested by Apple retail store employees, including a new activity-tracking feature that has been designed with wheelchair users in mind. The move is slightly unusual in that, while retail employees have previously been used to test pre-release versions of OS X and iOS, this marks the first time they've been included in the otherwise developer-only watchOS betas. The company is said to have gone to great lengths to modify the activity tracker for wheelchair users, including changing the "time to stand" notification to "time to roll" and including two wheelchair-centric workout apps. http://bit.ly/2955JDa
SanDisk reveals two 256GB microSDXC cards
SanDisk has introduced two 256GB microSDXC cards. Arriving in August for $150, the Ultra microSDXC UHS-I Premium Edition card offers transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s for reading data. The Extreme microSDXC UHS-I card can read at a fast 100MB/s and write at up to 90MB/s, and will be shipping sometime in the fourth quarter for $200. http://bit.ly/294Q1If
Apple's third-quarter results due July 26
Apple has advised it will be issuing its third-quarter results on July 26, with a conference call to answer investor and analyst queries about the earnings set to take place later that day. The stream of the call will go live at 2pm PT (5pm ET) via Apple's investor site, with the results themselves expected to be released roughly 30 minutes before the call commences. Apple's guidance for the quarter put revenue at between $41 billion and $43 billion. http://apple.co/1oi1Pbm
Twitter stickers slowly roll out to users
Twitter has introduced "stickers," allowing users to add extra graphical elements to their photos before uploading them to the micro-blogging service. A library of hundreds of accessories, props, and emoji will be available to use as stickers, which can be resized, rotated, and placed anywhere on the photograph. Images with stickers will also become searchable with viewers able to select a sticker to see how others use the same graphic in their own posts. Twitter advises stickers will be rolling out to users over the next few weeks, and will work on both the mobile apps and through the browser. http://bit.ly/29bbwUE