New Apple TV has universal search, $149 priced reaffirmed by credible report

By Christian Zibreg on Sep 2, 2015

Following a recent report by 9to5Mac’s reliable blogger Mark Gurman that a fourth-generation Apple TV will cost between $149 and $199, BuzzFeed’s John Paczkowski has corroborated that information, adding that the set-top box will also include a universal search feature.

Billed as another tentpole feature, universal search will allow owners of the forthcoming set-top box to search for a show or movie once “and see results from all sorts of different sources.” Read More


September 9 event wallpapers: “Hey Siri, give us a hint”

By Jim Gresham on Aug 27, 2015

On Thursday, August 27, Apple released the media invitation for an event on September 9. The fall announcements typically highlight updates for iOS devices. Sometimes iPhone and iPad are announced separately, but it is estimated both devices will receive a refresh in the coming weeks.

In line with new invitations, the web quickly rushes to build corresponding, celebratory wallpapers. Inside, we have some quick work done by avid iDB readers. Within hours, they shared their collections and we pass them on to you. Read More


Facebook testing new ‘M’ digital assistant feature within Messenger

By Cody Lee on Aug 26, 2015

Facebook on Wednesday began testing a new digital assistant feature called ‘M.’ As explained by Facebook Messenger lead David Marcus, the feature, which lives inside Messenger, is powered by artificial intelligence that can complete tasks and find information on a user’s behalf.

The artificial intelligence is both trained and supervised by real live humans, and unlike other AI-based services available today, it can do things like purchase items and deliver gifts. Of course it can handle normal chores too, such as booking restaurants and logging appointments. Read More


Siri voice actors share tidbits on becoming instantly recognizable voices around the world

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 12, 2015

Apple debuted the iPhone 4s with Siri on October 4, 2011. The unexpected arrival of the digital personal assistant was called a life-changing moment bound to reshape how we interacted with mobile devices.

A year later, Siri went live on iPads. Siri is also an important feature of CarPlay and this year got added to the Apple Watch as a crucial method of hands-free user interaction. The digital personal assistant is now in the pockets, on wrists and in the cars of the millions, answering the world’s questions.

But what does it take to become the voice of Siri? Former Siri voice actors have shared secrets of the trade with The Guardian newspaper and talked about becoming instantly recognizable voices around the world.

Here are the juiciest bits. Read More


Rumor: Siri-powered iCloud Voicemail that transcribes messages due in 2016 with iOS 10

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 3, 2015

A Siri-powered voicemail service for iPhones is in the works and it will transcribe your voicemail messages, if a report published Monday by Business Insider is anything to go by.

Writer James Cook claims that Apple employees are already testing an upcoming voicemail service “which uses Siri to answer your calls and transcribe voicemail messages.” Read More


Facebook reportedly building ‘Moneypenny,’ a personal assistant for Messenger with a twist

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 14, 2015

Facebook is working on a personal digital assistant of its own, designed specifically for use with its popular Messenger mobile software.

Referred to internally as “Moneypenny” after Miss Moneypenny, a secretary to M in the James Bond films, it will reportedly allow Facebook Messenger users to perform tasks like checking the weather, buying products and more.

According to a report by The Information, hidden behind the paywall, one crucial difference will set apart the James Bond-inspired digital assistant from the likes of Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s Google Now, Amazon’s Echo and others: it will be human-powered. Read More


Apple publishes list of supported Siri voice commands for controlling HomeKit appliances

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 25, 2015

Apple has refreshed a support article detailing setting up and using HomeKit-enabled accessories with a list of supported Siri voice commands to control your HomeKit hardware locally or remotely, through your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

After pairing a HomeKit-enabled accessory to an iOS device, you can use Siri commands to turn your home appliance on or off, adjust its settings and more, using just your voice. Read More


This accessory is a Home button for your car

By iDB Deals on Jun 11, 2015

This cool accessory puts the power of your iPhone’s voice command system at your fingertips, for whenever it is out of reach. It can be yours for $23, that’s a savings of 42% off the list price. Read More


Siri to get much more intelligent in iOS 9

By Cody Lee on Jun 8, 2015

Finishing up with OS X El Capitan, Apple’s Craig Federighi moves on to talk about Siri. Apple has been working on a number of improvements to the digital assistant, which has been criticized over the years for lagging behind the efforts of Google and others.

In line with run-up event rumors, Siri is getting more intelligent in iOS 9 thanks to ‘Proactive,’ which makes your device more contextually aware. This allows Siri to respond to queries more intelligently based on your location, the time of day and other things. Read More


SoundHound has created a voice search app that will knock your socks off

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 5, 2015

Apple’s introduction of Siri back in 2011 was a watershed moment for voice-activated personal digital assistants. Today, a myriad of Siri-like services exist such as Google Now on Android devices and Microsoft’s cross-platform Cortana, which will be hitting iOS soon following Windows 10 debut on July 29.

But many if not all of the existing services, Siri included, could be put to shame by Hound.

Hound is a forthcoming digital assistant which promises a groundbreaking smartphone experience, created by SoundHound, the maker of namesake mobile music and audio recognition service. Read More


Hands-on with HomeKit: the Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Dimmer Kit from Lutron

By Jeff Benjamin on Jun 4, 2015

A couple of hours ago, I got my first real hands-on experience with HomeKit—the connected smart home framework that Apple announced at WWDC 2014. A year later, and some of the very first HomeKit enabled products are now landing on store shelves.

The folks over at Lutron were nice enough to send us the Caséta Wireless Smart Lighting Dimmer Kit ($229.95 on Amazon). This kit comes with a Smart Bridge, two remote controls and two plug-in lamp dimmers. Although the kit in and of itself is interesting, our main interest at iDownloadBlog is with its HomeKit support. With that in mind, this post consists of an unboxing and overview of Lutron’s kit and a walkthrough of the HomeKit configuration, including Siri control.

Want to see how HomeKit works in the real world? Then watch our full video walkthrough for more details. Read More


New report details Siri API, Apple’s Google Now, ‘Browse Around Me’ in Maps and more iOS 9 stuff

By Christian Zibreg on May 27, 2015

Apple is reportedly reading a Siri Application Programming Interface (API), according to a new report. Called Breadcrumbs, it should let developers enhance iPhone and iPad applications by implementing Siri intelligence in a limited fashion. Another new initiative seeks to create a Google Now experience for iOS devices.

In addition, the Cupertino firm is reportedly adding augmented reality features to Apple Maps, including one dubbed Browse Around Me.

The way it’s supposed to work, you’d point your iPhone’s camera toward a particular business or an area and Maps would put up relevant information such as a virtual view of menu items or daily specials, 9to5Mac said Wednesday. Read More


Cortana is coming to iOS with Windows 10 Phone Companion app, Microsoft confirms

By Christian Zibreg on May 26, 2015

Microsoft Cortana, the software giant’s Siri-like personal digital assistant available on Windows Phone and Windows 10 mobile and desktop platforms, will expand later this year to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, as well as Android smartphones and tablets.

The company officially confirmed the news in a blog post this morning, basically corroborating an earlier March report by Reuters which claimed Cortana would hit non-Microsoft mobile platforms this fall. Read More


How to replace Siri sound effects with Jarvis sound effects

By Jeff Benjamin on May 16, 2015

Ever since Siri’s been out, I’ve seen people comment about how great it would be to replace Siri’s voice with J.A.R.V.I.S. from Marvel’s Iron Man series.

Apparently, that desire hasn’t waned, as there’s a fairly large thread on Reddit discussing a method for replacing Siri’s stock sound effects with custom Jarvis effects pulled right from the movies.

I’ve tried this method out, and honestly, it sounds a little bit low budget. Nonetheless, I know some of you will enjoy this, and just the fact that you can learn where the Siri sound effects are, and how to replace them properly, makes this tutorial worth checking out.

Read More


Hey Siri, will you please let me talk back to you?

By Sébastien Page on May 13, 2015

Siri has come a long way since it was first introduced along the iPhone 4s and iOS 5 back in 2011. The assistant has gotten smarter, wittier, and all around more helpful, at least on the iPhone, because in my experience,  it’s a completely different animal on Apple Watch.

To be fair, I’m not so much complaining about actual voice dictation on Apple Watch. Besides a few missteps that were most likely due to my strong French accent, dictation has been very reliable on Apple Watch. What hasn’t though, is to getting Siri to activate, whether it is hands-free or by using the Digital Crown. And when I do get it to work, not being able to interact with Siri with interactive voice commands is also a source of frustration. Allow me to explain. Read More


Applebot, a web crawler for Siri and Spotlight, unmasked in a support document

By Christian Zibreg on May 6, 2015

An official support document updated last evening has confirmed that Apple is using a web crawler service called Applebot to index the web for content used by its Siri personal digital assistant on iOS devices and built-in Spotlight search on both iOS and OS X.

An Apple-operated engine, Applebot is described as “the web crawler for Apple” which gathers useful content for products including Siri and Spotlight Suggestions. The document doesn’t state how long AppleBot has been operational in production. Read More


How to complete various actions hands-free on Apple Watch

By Jeff Benjamin on May 4, 2015

You may have noticed that while using Siri, the Apple Watch interface presents on screen buttons that you have to tap with your finger to confirm commands. While this is doable in a lot of circumstances, it takes away from the hands-free element that’s necessary in many situations.

At times, it’s simply impossible to physically tap a button on the Apple Watch to confirm a command, and that’s where using the Hey Siri hands-free assistant to its full potential can come in handy. In fact, it’s totally possible to send text messages, establish calendar events, set reminders, and more without touching your Apple Watch.

Yes, despite what the Apple Watch interface may lead you to think, you can use Siri completely hands-free in quite a few scenarios. Watch our hands-on video for the details. Read More


How to use Siri on Apple Watch

By Jeff Benjamin on May 2, 2015

Like the iPhone and iPad, Siri can help you find information and get things done on Apple Watch. Unlike the iPhone and iPad versions, there is no voice feedback present. Instead, Siri communicates via haptic feedback and text on the Apple Watch screen. It works, but it does take a bit of adjustment, even if you’re familiar with how to use Siri on the iPhone or iPad. Read More


Chinese court says Apple isn’t guilty of Siri patent infringement, overturns previous ruling

By Jake Smith on Apr 24, 2015

“Siri, how does it feel to be a winner?”

A Chinese appeals court has put an end to a three year patent battle over Apple’s Siri voice recognition found on its iOS line. AFP reports that Apple has won an appeal in China over the patents, overturning an earlier decision that put Apple in the guilty chair. Read More


How to control Spotify with Siri

By Jeff Benjamin on Apr 14, 2015

As most of you guys know, I’m a huge Spotify fan. I’ve been using the service ever since it appeared on US shores, and it’s by far the best music streaming service in my opinion.

One thing that I’ve always missed about Spotify when compared to the stock Music app, is the ability to control my tunes via Siri. With the stock Music app, you can use Siri to play any song in your library, or play a music station using iTunes Radio. Spotify? Not so much.

That all changed a few days ago when developer Zaid Elkurdi released Assistant+. With a little finagling, you can get Assistant+ to interface with Spotify on a limited basis. But with Zaid’s new add-on called SpotifySiriControls, you can do a whole lot more. Read More