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
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 6, 2014
I’m not really sure what to think about Amazon’s crazy connected speaker with built-in personal digital assistant. What I do know is that the Echo could be a close approximation of what a next-generation Apple TV with built-in Siri might be like. Taking another swing at hardware, the Echo is well designed: it sports both sexy looks and the smarts.
It’s also got a few cool tricks up its sleeve to dazzle unsuspecting users. In a nutshell, the Echo will talk to you, play music, read your news headlines, check the weather, find facts online — and also sell you things — for $199. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 29, 2014
Five days after Facebook announced its $16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in February of this year, the world’s most popular messaging platform announced plans to enable voice calling in the first half of this year.
The summer came and went and here we are well into the third quarter of 2014 and now WhatsApp is saying that the planned release has been pushed back.
Citing a series of technical challenges, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said during his presentation at the Code/Mobile conference this week that the VoIP calling service will make its debut in WhatsApp mobile apps in the first quarter of 2015. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 10, 2014
Almost a year following the public release of iOS 7, Google Voice has finally been refreshed with the revamped user interface to match Apple’s guidelines for iOS 7 development.
Now available in the App Store, Google Voice 1.6 also brings support for Google Voice integration in Hangouts and the obligatory bug fixes and performance improvements.
Earlier this morning, the search company issued an update to Hangouts for the iPhone and iPad which enabled free and low-cost VoIP calling to your Hangouts friends and mobile/landline numbers around the world. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 10, 2014
As suspected, the Internet giant Google on Wednesday has finally gotten around refreshing its free of charge Hangouts mobile application for the iPhone and iPad with the ability to make phone calls to anyone on your Hangouts contact list, using the new voice-calling feature.
As part of its staggered shuttering of the Voice app, “starting today you can make voice calls from Hangouts on Android, iOS and the web,” wrote the search giant in a post over at the Official Google Blog.
Calling landline and mobile phone numbers in the United States and Canada is free, with the international calling rates starting at a ridiculously low one cent per minute. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Aug 26, 2014
With precisely two weeks until Apple’s rumored September 9 iPhone 6 announcement, the nation’s leading carrier, Verizon Wireless, Tuesday morning announced the official beginning of nationwide Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology roll-out. The carrier in May laid out plans to deploy VoLTE using the AMR-wideband standard.
VoLTE uses high-speed 4G LTE data network to carry voice instead of the legacy circuit-switched voice network. Verizon says users can expect to enjoy higher-fidelity voice calls ”in the coming weeks.“
Additionally, the Big Red carrier said the feature will be enabled on supported devices via a software update. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Aug 17, 2014
OS X includes a nifty Dictation feature which allows you to control your Mac and apps with your voice. You can use “speakable items”, basically a set of spoken commands, to open apps, choose menu items, email contacts and convert whole spoken sentences to text, wherever you can type text.
This is much like iOS’s Dictation feature as both iOS and OS X use the same Nuance-powered technology that turns speech to text. iOS devices have limited computing power so the Dictation feature on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad requires network connectivity in iOS 7 (iOS 8 supports streaming voice recognition and 22 new languages).
On the Mac, computing resources like CPU power, battery life and RAM are not of paramount importance as on mobile, Therefore, OS X Mavericks provides a new Enhanced Dictation feature which converts your words to text without utilizing Apple’s servers.
In other words, server-based Dictation lets you dictate without an active Internet connection. Because voice recognition processing runs locally on your Mac, text appears instantly as you speak. That is: continuos, streaming dictation with live feedback is made possible.
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to turn on Enhanced Dictation in OS X and take advantage of speech-to-text, even when you’re off the grid… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 7, 2014
Having unceremoniously removed voice messaging from the recently remastered Skype 5.0 for iPhone, the Microsoft-owned VoIP provider on Monday pushed a minor update that has brought the useful feature back while adding two others.
The new Skype 5.2 for iPhone is rolling out this morning. In addition to voice messaging, the refreshed Skype app has also brought back the ability to access contact profiles while allowing you to add participants to the existing conversation at any time… Read More
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
By Christian Zibreg on Jun 13, 2014
Microsoft has wont to arrive late to parties: following Siri’s introduction nearly three years ago, Redmond in April of this year has finally gotten around to unveiling a personal assistant of its own, Cortana, at the Build Developer Conference in San Francisco.
Originally conceived as a Windows Phone 8.1 exclusive, the Windows giant is now reportedly considering bringing the virtual assistant to rival platforms, namely to iOS and Android.
Let me get this straight. Beats updates Android app. Microsoft launches Office for iPad before even releasing a touch-optimized version for Windows 8 tablet. Apple reportedly mulling iTunes for Android…
What a difference a few years make, eh? Read More
By Cody Lee on May 28, 2014
Last night at Recode’s inaugural Code Conference, Microsoft announced a new real-time voice translation feature for its Skype VoIP service. The company says it’s currently in beta form, but it plans to eventually roll it out to all devices.
The goal of the feature is to allow users to hold a conversation with someone speaking a foreign language, with Skype providing near-instant voice translations for both parties. And judging by the initial demonstration, it works fairly well… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on May 22, 2014
Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile USA, the nation’s fourth largest wireless carrier, on Thursday announced it’s started gradual deployment of Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) technology, starting with Seattle.
The move comes just as rival AT&T last Friday brought both VoLTE and HD Voice technologies to select markets and as Verizon Wireless pledged to roll out VoLTE later this year.
That major U.S. telcos are racing to have VoLTE ready at this particular moment in time may have something to do with Apple’s expected launch of the iPhone 6 this Fall, alongside iOS 8 which is said to support making voice calls over high-speed LTE networks out of the box… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 3, 2014
The Windows giant Microsoft will be introducing its upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update at the Build conference next month.
With it comes Cortana, a Microsoft-branded personal digital assistant that includes functionality provided by Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Now voice-activated assistants.
It also has a few nice features not provided by Apple so perhaps competition from Microsoft (and Google) will prompt the iPhone maker to roll out new Siri features sooner than later. The Verge has an exclusive look at Cortana’s interface and some of its features, here are the highlights… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jan 30, 2014
Yahoo’s shopping spree continues as the company announced Thursday its newest acqui-hire: San Francisco based Incredible Labs, the team behind a rather compelling virtual assistant app named Donna.
Incredible launched Donna on iOS last summer. Named after Donna Moss, the popular assistant from the TV show The West Wing, the software is basically a cross between Google Now and Siri.
The application strives to manage your day with features like smart notifications, an anticipatory calendar and in-app directions, to mention but a few. Donna would proactively tell you about upcoming appointments, dial into conference calls for you, let others know when to expect you by analyzing traffic conditions and your frequent locations – even taking into account the little things like the current parking situation.
In November, Donna got updated with Lock screen calling, smarter meeting scheduling and other features. Nothing indicated at the time that Incredible would slow the pace of Donna development, let alone sell out to Yahoo.
Unfortunately, there is some bad news for Donna fans out there: the Internet giant will be shutting down the application following the acquisition… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jan 20, 2014
As Apple gears up to unleash the fourth beta of the upcoming iOS 7.1 firmware update, possibly as early as tomorrow (carriers are already testing it), we’ve been tipped off about a nice improvement in the current iOS 7.1 Beta 3 release which has apparently escaped our and pretty much everyone else’s attention.
Courtesy of the latest iOS 7.1 beta, male and female Siri voice with British English accent are now available on iOS 7.1 Beta 3 device. As the currently available non betas don’t offer updated voices for Siri in the UK, this signals Apple is looking to enable Siri’s gender option in more languages as the company continues to fine-tune its digital personal assistant… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jan 16, 2014
CNET reported last summer that Google Now cards were heading to Google’s Chrome browser for the Mac. Six months later, Google releases a brand new Google Canary build with Google Now cards functionality nested right inside the browser’s notification center which sits in your Mac’s status bar.
Although not all Google Now cards are available in this alpha release of Chrome, the search company has integrated a few of the most popular ones like sports scores, real-time weather updates, and travel information… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 27, 2013
Yours truly is a huge fan of Google Now so it goes without saying I’ve long been yearning for that kind of hands-free voice searching on my Mac desktops and notebooks. Available via Google’s free Search app for the iPhone and iPad since November 5, the cool feature dutifully listens to the ‘OK Google’ keyword which initiates a voice search. It’s severely crippled, too, as ‘OK Google’ only works if the Search app is running, as opposed to the always-on implementation on the Nexus 5 and Moto X.
Blame it on Apple’s strict policy that prohibits third-parties from listening to the microphone input in the background. Well, there are no such restrictions on Macs (yet) and Google has taken advantage of the fact and released a nice little extension for its browser allowing you to talk to Google (when you’re using Chrome) hands-free, no typing required… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 5, 2013
I appreciate memorable, creative advertising as much as the next guy, but I just don’t get a new Galaxy S4 commercial Samsung is airing in Iceland.
Instead of focusing on the handset’s features or the usual iPhone bashing, this time around Samsung’s creative agency has gone over the top in depicting a guy trying to make a phone call on a real apple.
Realizing swiping across fruit makes no sense, the ad then switches to a happy scene where our hero operates a Galaxy S4. The not-so-subtle jab at Apple is plain weird, to put it mildly. I know ads are supposed to take into account the often vast cultural differences across markets, but I’m not sure Samsung did itself a favor with this particular commercial… Read More
By Cody Lee on Jun 24, 2013
A few moments ago, Apple released the second beta of its next-generation mobile operating system, iOS 7, to developers. The first beta, which was released two weeks ago today, featured a number of UI changes and new features. And today’s update adds to that.
One of the bigger changes we’ve noticed in beta 2 is that Apple has re-added the stock Voice Memos app. The utility was missing from the original iOS 7 release, leaving some folks to speculate that Apple was getting rid of it all together. But that’s not the case… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on May 15, 2013
DirecTV has a decent iOS app on the App Store which streams live television programming, supports DVR functionality and lets you browse and access on-demand streams of past television shows and movies.
The company previously promised to activate voice-enabled features and today it made good on that promise by updating DirectTV software to version 2.5.
The new version uses voice-activated navigation to enable users to find whatever they want to watch on their telly. It’s just like Siri: simply speak to the app just as you would to a person in order to find something to watch. In fact, DirectTV’s software gives us a good indication how a rumored Siri-enabled Apple television set could enhance the experience… Read More