In December, it was reported that Google is working on a solution that will boost the capabilities of its Voice Actions on Android-powered devices in an effort to compete with Apple’s Siri voice assistant. The service, which was previously code-named “Majel,” will launch as “Assistant” according to a report from TechCrunch. Google intends its Assistant service to go beyond Siri’s functionality, and the software giant will maintain complete control of all the layers involved. According to the website’s sources, Assistant is being created by the Android team and has three goals: to put the world’s knowledge into a format a computer can understand, to create a personalization layer and to build a mobile, voice-controlled “do engine” that will help users accomplishing real-life goals. Unlike Apple, Google reportedly intends to make the service available to developers in an effort to broaden its functionality. The service will reportedly be unveiled in the fourth quarter of 2012. More →
Apple’s first television advertisement for the iPhone 4S began airing on Thursday and it bills the new smartphone as Apple’s most amazing iPhone yet. Titled simply “Assistant,” the ad places Apple’s new virtual personal assistant Siri front and center as it rapidly passes through a montage of iPhone 4S owners calling on Siri for help. One man asks Siri how to tie a bow tie, while a concerned woman asks for the fastest route to Hartford Hospital. A businessman asks Siri to reschedule his meeting and a young girl asks what a weasel looks like. The commercial runs through a dozen scenarios where Siri comes in handy, wrapping things up with a woman who locked herself out of her home. The woman simply states, “I’m locked out,” and Siri quickly uses her GPS location and a web search to replies with “I found 3 locksmiths fairly close to you.” Siri is the gift that keeps on giving, of course, and this is the first of many ads we’ll see touting the iPhone 4S’ most compelling new feature. A video of Apple’s Assistant spot follows below. More →
As rumored, Apple just took the wraps off the fruits of its Siri acquisition and it’s called… “Siri.” The feature enables you to interact with your device much as you would with a human assistant; you can speak to your phone naturally and it will perform as a personal assistant. Apple demonstrated different voice tasks during its press conference on Tuesday, such as asking what the weather is like today, or do I need a raincoat today? More voice tasks? Wake me up at 6AM tomorrow and Siri will set your phone alarm. What’s the time in Paris? How’s the stock market doing today? Find me an italian restaurant in New York? Give me directions to a location? Siri will even read your text and email messages to you. Siri will become available to the public when iOS 5 launches on October 12th.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint has entered into an agreement with Apple to purchase over $20 billion worth of iPhones over the next four years — that’s around 30 million iPhones. It’s said that Sprint won’t even break even on the transaction until 2014, which is surely a huge risk on Sprint’s part, but why? I have been going back and forth for weeks with one of my incredibly solid industry contacts on a piece of information that I couldn’t really process at first — information that is so unbelievable, even from a source this solid, that I couldn’t report it. With this new WSJ report on an Apple/Sprint deal, however, it doesn’t look so crazy. Hit the break for more. More →
Apple’s Siri and Nuance-powered “Assistant” voice control feature expected to launch with iOS 5 has hardly been a secret, and now MacRumors has commissioned a video mock-up of the service based on what we know so far. The video shows, for example, that a user might be able to hold down the home button to activate the application and speak a command, not unlike Apple’s simple voice controls today. Assistant should step today’s capabilities up quite a bit, however. The service will likely scour your phone’s contents or the web to deliver results, and it may even be capable of replying to you; in the MacRumors video, Assistant asks the user if he would like to text a contact’s mobile or work number. We expect to hear more about Assistant during Apple’s iPhone event on October 4th. Read on for the full video. More →
We’ve heard rumors that Apple will a include Siri-powered “Assistant” voice command option ahead of the official iOS 5 launch, and now 9to5Mac has learned that Apple will also add Nuance-powered speech-to-text functionality. As the screenshots show, users will simply need to tap the microphone button next to the space bar in order to activate the feature. When active, a larger microphone image will pop up to alert the user to begin speaking. The functionality is similar to what’s already available on Android smartphones and we hope it performs just as well. Hopefully we’ll see text-to-speech implemented in an upcoming iOS 5 beta build, otherwise we’ll have to wait until September when the official public release hits. Read on for a second screen shot. More →
It has been about 15 months since Apple acquired Siri for a reported $200 million, and it looks as though we won’t have to wait much longer to see the deal bear fruit. In line with earlier reports, 9to5 Mac has been sent evidence that Apple will introduce voice controls in iOS 5. At present, the voice control features within iOS are lumped together in a service called “Assistant,” though this is not confirmed to be the launch name. A screenshot said to have come from an iPhone test unit shows a toggle to activate the Assistant service — and old style toggle rather than the slider from the new iOS 5 UI, interestingly — and 9to5 Mac claims to have verified the service by analyzing Apple’s latest iOS 5 SDK. “‘Assistant’ does not work only based on a user’s voice inputs, but Apple will take information – securely – from user’s devices like location, contact’s information, and music metadata to formulate the best information to serve a user’s request,” 9to5 Mac’s Mark Gurman writes. “Since Apple will be taking information such as phone contacts and location, we truly think that ‘Assistant’ will work just like the Siri iPhone application does; but fully integrated into the operating system.” The source of the screenshot says that the feature just went into testing, however, and it may not be ready in time for the initial release of iOS 5 this fall. More →
Apple is on a shopping spree, scooping up everything from chip manufacturers to personal mobile assistants. Several days ago, an FTC filing revealed that Apple is acquiring Siri, creator of a mobile application that serves as your personal search assistant. Similar to Android’s voice search, Siri allows you to ask it a question like “nearest gas station” and it will provide a personal, localized answer. The key to the service is its voice recognition and its vast array of back-end APIs that include Yahoo Local, Yelp, Flightsats, WeatherBug, and more. No word on what Apple intends to do with this newly acquired property, but the possibility of a personal concierge on an iPhone or iPad is quite appealing.