Voice

Audio calling coming soon to Google’s Duo app

At an event in São Paulo, Brazil today, Google announced that its one-on-one video calling app, Duo, will be soon gaining audio-only calling on iOS and Android. The feature is already available starting today to customers in Brazil and will be rolling out to users around the world in the coming days. With the update, Duo for iPhone now supports both video and audio calling and effectively becomes a viable alternative to Apple’s FaceTime.

Cortana 2.0 for iPhone brings overhauled interface and faster performance

Microsoft today rolled out a major update to its Cortana personal assistant app for iPhone, with enhancements like faster page transitions, improved app responsiveness and overhauled user interface all part of the update. The new version arrived three months after its release on Android. Design improvements in Cortana 2.0, a free download from App Store, include a fresh new look with an improved user experience, immersive full-page answers and overhauled calling, texting and reminders.

Could Google be bringing its advanced AI-powered Assistant to iPhone and iPad?

Assistant, Google’s conversational helper, debuted last year exclusively on Pixel smartphones before quickly making its way into Google’s voice-activated speaker, called Home, and the latest version of Android Wear. The power of the AI-driven feature is readily apparent in Allo, the search giant’s cross-platform messaging app.

As Assistant began reaching more Android devices, including third-party smartphones running Android 6.0 and Android 7.0, a Google director hinted Thursday that the technology could be coming to Apple’s iPhone and iPad in the future.

Google starts rolling out Assistant to Android Nougat and Marshmallow smartphones

LG’s latest G6 flagship may have become the first non-Pixel phone to have Google’s new Assistant feature, but the search giant is focused on bringing its new personal assistant to as many other smartphones as humanly possible.

Keeping true to its promise, the Mountain View firm just started rolling out Assistant to smartphones running Android 7.0 Nougat and Android 6.0 Marshmallow versions.

With Assistant, you just long press on the Home button or say “Ok Google” to get started. The advanced feature leverages Google’s knowledge graph, artificial intelligence and machine learning to better understand context of your questions.

Google Home to launch in UK this spring

Amazon’s Echo will soon get some real competition as Google gears up to launch its Home smart connected speaker in the United Kingdom this spring. According to Rick Osterloh, Google’s Vice President of Hardware, Home’s “artificial intelligence skills and vast data” will give it the edge over Amazon’s voice-activated wireless speaker.

See how Alexa compares to Siri with Reverb

If you missed our post nearly a year ago about a web app at Echoism.io that lets you try out Alexa in a web browser, you’re going to like a new app, called Reverb, that brings Amazon’s personal assistant to your Mac desktop, as well as iPhone and iPad.

The brain child of developers at digital consultancy agency Rain, Reverb is available at no charge from App Store and Mac App Store or in your favorite web browser.

Reverb takes advantage of the fact that Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service is now available as a web service to access through a web browser and other thin clients, with the recent API 2.0 update having enabled a richer set of features.

Video: Adobe shows off voice-based image editing on iPad

How about editing photographs by voice commands alone? In a recent concept video, Adobe showed off performing basic image-editing functions on an iPad by conversing with a Siri-like digital assistant. The proof-of-concept clip gives us an interesting glimpse into a not-so-distant future when we’ll use our voice for complex tasks beyond simple things like scheduling reminders or creating alarms.

Tip: quickly fix mispronounced Siri queries with “Maybe You Said” suggestions

You may be probably aware that there is already a feature in iOS that sort of lets you type in your questions to Siri instead of using voice commands. It’s quite handy for those situations when talking aloud isn’t an option or Siri fails to recognize repeatedly what you said. Starting with iOS 10, Siri includes a “Maybe You Said” feature.

Taking advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence, it suggests corrections for mispronunciations or incorrectly recognized queries. In this post, you’ll learn how to leverage this feature to avoid having to manually correct any mispronounced words.

You can now start Chrome in Voice Search or Incognito mode from Spotlight Search

Google added Spotlight Search integration to Chrome for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch back in January 2016, allowing you to search for your Google bookmarks using iOS’s Spotlight feature. Today, the Internet giant issued a small update to Chrome for iOS, bumping version number to 55.0.2883.79 and adding a pair of enhancements.

The first lets you start Chrome in Voice Search mode or open a new Incognito tab right from Spotligh.

As for the other change, Google has now removed the folder named All Bookmarks from your bookmarks view in Chrome “by popular request”.

Amazon working on premium Echo model with 7″ touchscreen to “fend off competition”

Bloomberg’s well-informed Mark Gurman reported Monday that online retail giant Amazon is developing a brand new premium model of its Echo wireless speaker that will feature a built-in seven-inch touchscreen in an effort to “fend off competition” from Google’s Home device and Apple’s rumored entry into the connected home market with its own Siri-powered hardware.

Amazon may release a higher-end Echo device, known internally as “Knight,” early next year. It will target kitchens and cost more than the current Echo models.

Apple is increasing the size of its Siri team in Cambridge, job ads reveal

About a year ago, a certain California firm quietly snapped up VocalIQ, a UK-based startup that used machine learning to build conversational virtual assistants. Subsequent reports noted that Apple kept most of the startup’s employees to work out of their unmarked Cambridge, UK office on integrating VocalIQ technology into Siri.

Citing sources with knowledge of the matter, Business Insider reports that Apple is now looking to increase the size of the Siri team in Cambridge.

Video hands-on: 10+ new features in iOS 10.2 beta 1

Apple yesterday issued beta 1 of the forthcoming iOS 10.2 software update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. For starters, iOS 10.2 beta 1 includes three new wallpapers, provides a bunch of new emoji as part of the Unicode 9.0 standard and gives Camera the optional ability to remember filter, Live Photo and mode settings.

Star ratings are back in the Music app and Videos has its own widget. Oh, and you can now annoy friends with a brand new animation in Messages.

Without further ado, here’s our video hands-on with iOS 10.2 beta 1 accompanied by a detailed description of all the new features and enhancements.

How to turn VoiceOver off

Have you ever enabled VoiceOver on your iPhone or iPad either by accident or out of curiosity of what it was like and then had all the drama in the world trying to turn it back off again?

This tweak makes Siri less impatient so you can take your time speaking

A lot of times while using Siri, you might have to repeat yourself or start over while you’re talking because if you speak too slowly, or pause while you’re talking, you’ll get the “I didn’t quite get that” message.

As frustrating as this can be, especially in louder environments, a new free jailbreak tweak called SiriKeepListening now available in Cydia helps remedy this problem.