Study finds Siri and other hands-free systems to be very distracting while driving

By Cody Lee on Oct 7, 2014

Despite its good intentions, using Siri while driving is actually quite dangerous, according to a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. After a series of tests involving 45 drivers completing in-car tasks with various voice control systems, researchers found Apple’s digital assistant to be a “high level of mental distraction.”

In fact, Siri performed the worst out of all of the various systems they tested, and even resulted in two crashes during the simulator study. The popular assistant was also rated the least intuitive and the most complex, and AAA criticized it for its lack of consistency and flexibility when it came to recognizing voice commands from its drivers. Read More


The best new features of iOS 8

By Christian Zibreg on Sep 17, 2014

Admittedly, the myriad of new and useful capabilities that Apple’s just-released iOS 8 brings to your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad are going to prove hugely popular with mainstream users, to say the least. With iOS 8, Apple is appeasing harsh critics who’d frequently point out that Android is capable of things iOS cannot do, and then some more.

iOS 8 opens up Apple’s mobile operating system to third-party development to a much greater extent than ever before. And stemming from relaxed policies, iOS 8 boosts on-the-go productivity with deeper inter-app sharing while implementing some of the features our Android friends have grown accustomed to, but in a typical hassle-free Apple fashion, things like third-party keyboards, custom actions, photo editing extensions within the context of Photos and Camera apps and way more.

And though evolutionary rather than revolutionary, we have no doubt in our minds that iOS 8 is going to significantly improve the functionality of Apple’s mobile platform, and perhaps even give some folks less reasons to jailbreak.

To celebrate today’s release of the free iOS 8 software update, we proudly present you this detailed overview of more than two dozen iOS 8 features we think you’re going to fall in love with at first sight. Read More


Microsoft shows off HTC One M8 features in new Cortana vs. Siri ad

By Christian Zibreg on Sep 2, 2014

Microsoft on Tuesday started airing a new Windows Phone commercial that takes another jab at Apple’s Siri. The 30-second commercial titled ‘Mirror, Mirror’ has been posted on the official Windows Phone channel on YouTube this morning.

The video depicts Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant for Windows Phone devices, performing a series of tasks that Siri on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad can’t do, starting with deeper integration with core Windows Phone apps like calendar and Maps.

One scene depicts Cortana tapping information stored in a user’s calendar to provide accurate route and mapping information. Another scene highlights dual front-facing speakers on the HTC One M8, to which Siri responds that she has but a single speaker and that she’s “sitting on it”. Read More


Siri inventors working on next-gen AI assistant, Viv

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 12, 2014

Dag Kitt­laus and Adam Cheyer co-founded a SRI International spin-off in 2007. The startup eventually got acquired by Apple for its intelligent personal assistant technology which would later become (in)famously known as Siri.

But they haven’t been standing still.

The co-founders of Siri are now taking the concept to the next level with Viv, a new breed of digital personal assistant which couples a myriad of data sources to next-generation artificial intelligence algorithms in order to do virtually anything you ask.

Viv’s implications can’t be overstated. And rather than sell out to the highest bidder, this time around the team has broad ambitions to rethink the future of intelligent agents while possibly giving birth to a multibillion-dollar industry.

An exhaustive feature published Tuesday by Wired explains how the new San Jose, California-headquartered startup, Viv Labs, plans on advancing artificial intelligence and taking over the world, why Viv eclipses Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Google Now and how it differs from literally every digital assistant out there… Read More


Apple researching Siri for Mac, patent filing hints

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 7, 2014

Rumors of Apple’s supposed intent to port its iOS digital personal assistant, Siri, over to the Mac have persisted for years, and intensified lately. Back in November 2012, for example, 9to5Mac claimed that Siri would be baked into OS X Mavericks.

Mavericks is here without Siri and the feature is nowhere to be seen in Yosemite, which looms on the horizon. Of course, the Mac’s Dictation feature, powered by Nuance, doesn’t count as it’s simply speech-to-text with no real intelligence.

That being said, it would seem that the Cupertino firm has been quietly researching ways of enabling Siri on the Mac. Case in point: a newly discovered patent application filed back in February of this year which details how Siri for Mac might function, what features it could include and how it should improve your desktop productivity… Read More


Siri joins Beats Pill mascots in new ‘Apple and Beats’ spot

By Cody Lee on Aug 1, 2014

Beats Electronics posted a new video to its Twitter account this evening called ‘Apple and Beats.’ The ad appears to be a continuation of today’s celebration festivities, but oddly enough, no one in the spot actually gets to celebrate.

The clip features Beats Pill mascots Mikey and Tina, and Apple’s sassy digital assistant Siri. Apparently Dr. Dre is throwing a party to mark the Beats deal being completed, but Siri won’t give up directions because it’s by “invitation-only.” Read More


Microsoft airs Cortana vs. Siri ad showing contextually-aware tasks

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 28, 2014

Microsoft on Monday shared a new television commercial which the company first showed off at its annual conference back in April to rally up developers who were concerned that the software giant was losing its mojo.

The 30-second video depicts a showdown between Cortana, Microsoft’s own digital personal assistant baked into Windows Phone 8.1, and Apple’s Siri.

Microsoft’s assistant is shown completing a number of contextually-aware tasks using a plethora of services and data sources… Read More


Beijing ruling spells trouble for Apple’s Siri in China

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 9, 2014

Apple’s ability to use Siri as a competitive weapon in the 1.33 billion people market of China – its second-largest market by revenue – could be compromised. A Beijing court has now ruled against Apple by upholding the validity of a patent related to the personal assistant feature held by a Chinese company called Zhizhen Network Technology.

The ruling clears the way for Zhizhen to continue its own case patent infringement case against Apple. Specifically, the Shanghai-based firm is now asking the court to block Apple from selling devices with Siri installed. The iPhone maker is of course expected to appeal the verdict… Read More


Apple assembling in-house speech synthesis team to supplant Siri’s Nuance with better tech

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 1, 2014

As we’ve written before, Apple has created Siri in a modular manner, so that it could easily replace her Nuance-powered speech recognition engine with a similar piece of software. Siri since its inception has been reliant on Nuance technology, but things look to be changing sooner than later.

The company is reportedly assembling an in-house team of speech synthesis and voice recognition experts tasked with developing a proprietary technology that could supplant Nuance and give the personal assistant a “neural network” boost… Read More


Siri creators develop Kasisto, virtual personal assistant for business

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 27, 2014

SRI International, the startup behind the Siri personal assistant that Apple famously bought four years ago and implemented across its iOS device lineup, has spun off a new company called Kasisto that has developed a namesake personal assistant for businesses, Re/code reported Friday.

The business-minded personal assistant is aimed at companies wishing to implement Siri-like functionality within apps for industry verticals such as healthcare, automotive and more. Companies can train Kasisto for specific areas to perform complex tasks, which often require deep domain knowledge and human interaction… Read More


Samsung could acquire Nuance, the company behind Siri’s speech recognition engine

By Joe Rossignol on Jun 16, 2014

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Nuance Communications has been in talks with Samsung and private-equity firms about a possible sale of the company. The report, which cites sources with knowledge on the matter, claims it is unclear where sales talks currently stand, or whether these talks will actually materialize into a sale… Read More


Traces of Preview, TextEdit, standalone iTunes Radio and Siri API discovered in iOS 8 code

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 10, 2014

As a prominent iOS developer noted on Twitter, looks like Apple is actually toying with a standalone iTunes Radio app, as previously suspected.

In addition, Apple looks to be prepping new stock iOS 8 apps – TextEdit and Preview – as well as potentially enabling third-party Siri access.

Code hooks and hidden assets discovered in the iOS 8 Beta code seem to support these findings, largely corroborating much of the earlier findings by prominent Apple blogger Mark Gurman.

Note that this is no guarantee that Apple will roll out these features – that is, it will only introduce them when they’re ready for prime time. For example, The New York Times previously reported that split-screen functionality didn’t make the cut in iOS 8. With that in mind, it’s fairly safe to speculate that Preview, TextEdit, third-party Siri access and a standalone iTunes Radio could be slated for the iOS 8.1 updateRead More


iOS 8 adds always-on ‘Hey, Siri’ feature, Shazam integration

By Cody Lee on Jun 2, 2014

Adding to the long list of new features in iOS 8 is a handful of Siri improvements. The digital assistant didn’t get a ton of stage time, but iOS/OS X chief Craig Federighi did take a moment to run down some of its new capabilities.

In iOS 8, Siri will be able to handle dictation—where you talk, it types—in 22 new languages (not sure which ones yet, but will obviously be available on soon), and will feature Shazam ID technology for identifying songs… Read More


OkSiri: always-on voice recognition for Siri

By Jeff Benjamin on May 29, 2014

One of my favorite things about Android is the “OK Google” command that allows you to perform quick voice searches on a whim. Now iPhone users can (sort of) join in on the fun.

OkSiri is a brand new jailbreak tweak that brings always-on voice recognition to iOS 7 devices. Have a look at our video walkthrough inside for a demonstration of how it works. Read More


Siri coming to Apple TV, iOS code strings suggest

By Christian Zibreg on Apr 23, 2014

Apple on April Fool’s Day released iOS 7.1 with CarPlay, Siri/Touch ID improvements and more.

As part of the launch, the company has posted the final version of the official iOS 7.1 software development kit (SDK) that programmers use to take advantage of new features.

Enthusiasts frequently comb through iOS code in search of leads that would indicate upcoming new features or devices and iOS 7.1 SDK is no exception. In fact, eagled-eyed fans have spotted a couple interesting references in the iOS code possibly pointing at Apple’s digital personal assistant coming to Apple TV boxes… Read More


GoogolPlex will ‘unleash the power of Siri’ with Nest, Philips Hue, Spotify commands

By Jake Smith on Apr 17, 2014

Siri within iOS 7 can be limited sometimes, thanks to Apple’s “walled garden”, but a new tool called GoogolPlex wants to change that by opening the voice assistant to new commands.

Self described as the “App Store for Siri”, GoogolPlex opens Siri to work with Spotify, Philips Hue, the Nest Thermostat and more, just by an iOS user changing a few proxy settings… Read More


Apple purchased speech recognition firm Novauris last year to bolster Siri team

By Cody Lee on Apr 3, 2014

Just a day after Microsoft unveiled its digital assistant ‘Cortana’ to rave reviews, news has surfaced that Apple has been making moves to bring its own assistant up to speed. TechCrunch is reporting this morning that the Cupertino company has purchased speech recognition firm Novauris, and the group is now working on the Siri team.

Novauris is highly-regarded in the world of speech recognition. Founded in March 2002 by well-known speech researchers and ex Dragon Systems engineers, the firm’s technology is used in a variety of products by companies like Verizon Wireless, Panasonic, Alpine and BMW, and can be operated in both the embedded and server space… Read More


Microsoft finally unveils its Siri competitor ‘Cortana’

By Cody Lee on Apr 2, 2014

It’s been nearly three years since Apple unveiled Siri on its iPhone 4s, and Microsoft finally has its answer to the digital assistant: Cortana. Named after a virtual character in the company’s popular Halo gaming franchise, the feature is powered by Bing and offers a mix of Google Now-ish and Siri-like characteristics.

We first got a glimpse of Cortana earlier this year courtesy of a developer leak, but Microsoft officially unveiled her this morning at its Build Developer Conference in San Francisco. The assistant will ship alongside several other new features in the Windows Phone 8.1 update, expected to launch in the next few months… Read More


Siri guide: everything you should know about Siri

By Jeff Benjamin on Mar 8, 2014

Siri is a personal assistant feature found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, that allows you to use your voice to control your device. You can use Siri to send messages, emails, tweets, and more. You can also use Siri to get movie showtimes, sports scores and times, make dinner reservations, etc.

The great thing about Siri is that it doesn’t require you to look at your device’s screen in order to interface with it. And Siri is smart enough to consider your location along with the context of your commands and conversations. By doing so, Siri can respond intelligently to your requests.

Inside, we’ll teach you some of the history of Siri and show you some of its basic usage features. We’ll then present to you with an exhaustive list of voice commands, and discuss Siri’s dictation features. Check inside for all of the details… Read More


Apple rumored to open up Siri to 3rd party apps with iWatch in mind

By Christian Zibreg on Mar 5, 2014

According to a new report by The Information, a technology blog former WSJ writer Jessica Lessin started recently, Apple will open up Siri to third-party developers.

Such a move would let folks use the smart personal assistant to control their favorite apps. The development is believed to be closely tied to Apple’s work on its rumored wearable project, the iWatch.

This would mark a significant advancement for Siri, which since its October 2011 inception has been expected to allow for spoken commands and interactions in third-party iPhone and iPad applications… Read More

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