Tag - Voice
Motorola has updated its Touchless Control app with more voice commands, amid other changes. The app, available as an update through Google Play for compatible Motorola devices running Android KitKat, introduces the potentially-insecure option of verbally providing your security PIN to the smartphone in order to unlock it.
An annual shootout between Google's Google Now and Apple's Siri voice-assisted virtual assitants conducted by Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has resulted in a virtual tie, with both services receiving the same overall grade. Siri barely edged out Google Now by virtual of its better integration with OS commands -- an advantage that comes with the program's deep OS integration -- but both programs got the same overall grade (C+) and percentage of questions correct (79 percent).
Amazon has announced its acquisition of Ivona, a company that has specialized in text-to-speech technology for the last 10 years. The deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, sees Amazon take control of the firm and software that provides the text-to-speech functions for the Kindle Fire, as well as the tablet's Voice Guide and Explore By Touch functionality.
Contour 1.1 ($50) is a story development tool that can help with the process of turning a movie idea into a full outline. The software uses a fill-in the-blanks approach where the user is asked series of questions on topics like loglines, the protagonist's growth and the beats to be used in each of four acts. The update has added new sample content and allows users to enter Contour XML files form the File menu. Version 1.1 also includes several small interface enhancements and bug fixes. [Download - 4.6MB]
T-Mobile's impending unveiling of its 3G network will reportedly be voice only initially, with data communications to follow later. The news comes in a note received by Engadget, which goes contrary to most competing providers. Cellular companies such as Cingular, Verizon, and Sprint all have their own 3G network segments that either went up as data card-only, or as a simultaneous release of both data and voice services.
Yahoo today announced a new version of Yahoo Messenger for Mac that introduces a number of new audio and voice capabilities. Users can now place PC-to-PC calls, as well as Phone Out/In, with a full voice message and SMS service on the Mac. By creating a Phone In account, Yahoo will provide users with a telephone number that they can be reached at from a standard phone, starting at $2.50 per month, and is available in France, the UK and US.
Nintendo's Wii console may eventually get some form of voice chat, the company's American president says. Speaking during a conference call today, Reggie Fils-Aime explained that there is nothing technically stopping the Wii from doing voice in online play; it is only a matter of Nintendo mustering the will and money to support it. "...what it comes down to is finalizing the peripheral," he noted. "I would not be surprised to see that capability come to this system." Voice chat is one current advantage of Microsoft's Xbox 360, which comes bundled with a headset and allows sending delayed messages in addition to in-game conversation.
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WhatsApp now handles over 100M calls daily
WhatsApp is celebrating that it is being used for over 100 million calls every day. In a brief notice, the Facebook-owned messaging platform advises the voice-calling feature it rolled out to its users last year now deals with an average of over 1,100 calls initiated per second. Earlier this year, it increased the security of its calls and other messages, by introducing end-to-end encryption on all platforms. http://bit.ly/292HqCX
Adele's '25' album now streaming
Recording artist Adele has "pulled a Kanye" after saying that her current album "25" would not be available for streaming. The seven-month-old record, which has yielded a number of hit singles, is now available for streaming on all the major streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, as of today in most major markets, with worldwide distribution to come. Reportedly, the singer had demanded streaming be limited to paid subscribers -- a condition that has hurt some streamers with artists, who aren't paid royalties for free or trial listens . Apple pays performers its normal royalty rates during its free trial, avoiding the issue -- and having repeated success in both signing up exclusives and placing those exclusives into the top of the charts. http://ti.me/28U7NOu
SanDisk iXpand case has battery, storage
A new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s case from SanDisk appears to be the "holy grail" of accessories: a stylish and protective case that offers both extra storage as well as the option of extra battery power as well. The iXpand Memory case offers either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of additional storage incorporated into the case, and an optional add-on battery pack (sold separately) adds up to an extra day or more of charge. Through the associated iXpand app, camera photos and videos can be automatically stored on the extra storage, optionally password-protected, The cost for the case is (in order of storage capacity) $60, $100, and $130. The battery pack's release data has not yet been announced, but the add-on should retail for an additional $30. http://bit.ly/291epHu
Fifth Hong Kong store to open June 30
The 46th official Apple store in what the company calls the "Greater China" region will open at 10AM local time in Hong Kong's New Town Plaza in the Sha Tin district on Thursday, June 30, according to a new page on Apple's retail website. Despite slowing growth due to economic turmoil in China, the country is still Apple's fastest-growing market. The new story will be the fifth for Hong Kong, a lucrative market for Apple thanks to the high concentration of wealth there and a thriving "gray" market. Normal store hours for the new store will be 10AM to 10PM every day. http://apple.co/291diaT
Apple Music bug bites very short songs
There appears to be a reproducible bug in the current version of iTunes -- version 12.4.1, running on OS X 10.11.5, both the current non-beta versions of the respective software -- that causes a streamed song to become "stuck" in endless buffering if the streamed item just before this happened was 60 seconds or less in length. The problem appears to stem from code in iTunes that signals the next track to start downloading one minute before the currently-playing track is done, and thus songs shorter than one minute don't trigger the download. Locally-stored music is unaffected by the bug, and the problem does not appear to exist in either the macOS Sierra developer beta or versions of iTunes earlier than 12.4, and does not affect the iOS Music app at all. http://bit.ly/291cN0l
Walmart Pay expands to 15 states
Walmart, one of the key progenitors of the failed CurrentC mobile payment system that was distinguished from Apple Pay by its ability to collect and share customer financial and buying data among its participants, has expanded the soft rollout of its alternative solution "Walmart Pay" to an additional 15 US states following a pilot program in Arkansas and Texas last month. Walmart continues to resist adding Apple Pay. The system, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works with a complicated system of the camera scanning a purchase code at the register, then generating a QR code which is then scanned by the register. The system is available now in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, DC. http://apple.co/28SqZfu
Amazon refreshes entry-level Kindle
Amazon has added a new Kindle to its ebook reader range, one that is thinner and lighter than the previous entry-level model. Offering a six-inch 167-dpi touchscreen display, a doubled 4GB of storage, and an option for a white casing, the new model also adds in the ability to export highlights and notes to an email account as a PDF. Two versions of the all-new Kindle are available, priced at $80 including "Special Offers" and $100 without. http://amzn.to/28Q4c3R