Tag - Voice Search
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.
SoundHound, the company behind the music recognition app of the same name, has finally released its attempt at improving voice search as an iOS app, taking on Siri and Google Voice Search. Hound attempts to improve upon its main competition by using natural language processing and giving the option for users to be highly specific with their search queries, narrowing down the list of results to find exactly what the user wants.
Google has come under fire from privacy campaigners, for automatically installing an audio monitoring tool as part of Chromium, the core of Chrome. Developers discovered the browser was automatically downloading and installing code that listens to the user's voice for the voice search trigger "OK Google," something that is allowed within the main Chrome browser, but not within the open source Chromium browser.
SoundHound, a developer better known for its music recognition app, is taking on a market dominated by Google Voice Search, Siri, and Cortana. Hound is a voice-based search system that aims to differentiate itself from other similar services by focusing on improved speech recognition and language processing, taking into account the context and details of what is being asked instead of relying on spoken keywords.
Android's voice search functionality is anticipated to broaden its capabilities to offer an "eyes-free" interface, aimed at users who are driving. According to Tech Radar, the initiative is codenamed KITT and allows for accessing the "OK Google" voice search feature from anywhere within the phone. If Google cannot provide the information in a way that does not require viewing the screen, the information is saved until it can be safely viewed. More information regarding this upcoming feature will likely surface at Google's I/O conference.
Google has started to roll out its hands-free Voice Search to all desktop Chrome users. Initially released in the beta version of Chrome in February, the option allows Chrome users to start a voice search from a new tab or from Google.com by stating "OK Google" followed by the search query. Engadget reports the feature is currently available in the United States with browsers set to US English, but it could add support for other languages in the near future.
Pebble has cut the price for one version of its metal smartwatch. The leather-strap version of the Pebble Steel is now reduced to $229 for both the brushed stainless and black matte models, representing a $20 saving on the metal-band variants, reports SmartwatchFans. Potential buyers will have to wait, as the leather-strapped models are now back-ordered, while the metal strap versions are listed as "unavailable." The original version of the Pebble is still listed as in-stock.
Google has updated the beta version of the Chrome browser to add hands-free voice search, among other updates. Version 34 of the beta adds the same voice search functionality the company added to the Chromium browser last month, and allows users to search for items using the "OK Google" command, without needing to install an extension beforehand.
Google has added the Google Now Launcher to the Play Store, allowing the software that first appeared on the Nexus 5 to be used on other devices. The free launcher, formerly known as the Google Experience Launcher, adds a number of features not offered in the original Android 4.4 launcher, including a dedicated Home Screen page for Google now, as well as performing hands-free voice searches by uttering "OK Google" before the search query.
British carrier O2 has updated its contracts, requiring new customers and subscribers who upgrade to agree to a price plan increase every year. The change, noted by Engadget, comes after UK regulator Ofcom clarified rules that allowed customers to exit a contract early without penalty their contracts are changed mid-commitment, except in specific circumstances. As O2 has managed to find a loophole, it is likely that other carriers in the United Kingdom may employ similar tactics in the future, in order to earn more from their customers without the early termination risk.
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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