One of the main features of Windows Phone 8.1 is Microsoft’s voice-based virtual assistant called Cortana. While Microsoft has extensively demoed Cortana on stage during its Build 2014 opening event and in many videos it posted on YouTube, now that Windows Phone 8.1 is available the assistant can be tested in real life situations. That’s exactly what WPCentral did, comparing Cortana to its rivals from Apple and Google. More →
Microsoft finally got around to releasing its rival to Siri and Google Now this week and early impressions have been pretty strong. However, TechCrunch reports that Apple isn’t taking Cortana’s challenge lying down and has acquired speech recognition technology company Novauris Technologies to help make Siri better than ever. TechCrunch notes that while “Novauris may not have been a household name… its founders were internationally known speech researchers, and key members while at Dragon Systems, a company known for products like ‘DragonDictate’ and ‘Dragon NaturallySpeaking.'” This connection with Nuance and its Dragon NaturallySpeaking software isn’t at all surprising since Apple used Nuance’s technology to power Siri back when it launched in 2011. Just what the former Novauris team are doing to make Siri better remains a mystery, of course — unlike Google, Facebook and other big tech companies, Apple rarely tips its hand about what it’s really working on.
Of all the announcements at the Microsoft Build Developer Conference, Cortana certainly stands out as one of the most intriguing. With the addition of a worthwhile personal assistant, Windows Phone will finally begin to reach parity with iOS and Android, at least from a feature perspective. At first glance, it’s difficult not to compare Cortana to its iOS predecessor, so Microsoft has decided to approach the issue head on with a series of short videos comparing the two assistants. Microsoft argues that Cortana is a more personal companion, one which will learn about you and treat you as an individual, whereas Siri was built for everyone. Check out the videos below. More →
Apple on Wednesday was granted 38 patents, Patently Apple reports, including a Siri-related patent that stands out not only for describing advanced features for a voice-enabled assistant of the future, but also because the patent was first filed in early September 2006, well ahead of the first-generation iPhone’s debut. Even though work on iPhone and several of its components including a voice assistant has started well ahead of the phone’s launch, Siri was only added in late 2011, with the iPhone 4S becoming the first Apple handset to offer users the unique set of voice-based features that many have grown to love. More →
Want to know Siri’s backstory? All you have to do is ask the right questions. The engineers responsible for creating Apple’s virtual personal assistant Siri built in a number of fun Easter Eggs, or hidden features that can be discovered by asking specific questions or giving certain commands. Apple has continued to add even more fun new features as it continues to develop Siri, but perhaps one of the most interesting Siri Easter Eggs is one that has been present since the very beginning — but has yet to be uncovered. More →
Apple is apparently interested in further developing its voice-based virtual assistant Siri to offer users more advanced features, possibly akin to Google’s Google Now functionality. This, of course, could prove to be extremely useful on devices whose screens aren’t that big, a new The Information report seems to indicate. More →
Since Marissa Mayer became CEO, Yahoo has been on a bit of a roll and has released several well-reviewed apps (Weather, News Digest, Sports, etc.) while also bringing Flickr back from irrelevance. According to MIT Technology Review, Yahoo has even bigger plans with its recent announcement that it is investing millions of dollars to develop a smarter Siri. More →
A newly awarded Apple patent describes a technology that would allow the Siri voice-based virtual assistant that’s currently available on various iOS devices to help with photo cataloging and image searching in the future, MacRumors reports. The patent, called “Voice-Based Image Tagging and Searching” and awarded to Apple on December 26 after being filed earlier in March, identifies photo management as a time-consuming chore on mobile devices.It proposes “a simple, intuitive, user-friendly way to tag photographs” that includes “voice-based photo-tagging, automatic photo-tagging, and voice-based photo searching implemented at an electronic device.” More →
There’s no question that smartphone developers believe voice-activated personal assistants are the wave of the future, but in their current state, they have failed to generate much excitement. Case in point: just 15% of iOS 7 users said they had used Siri in a survey conducted earlier this year.
Siri is a competent personal assistant as it stands, but not much more. Although Siri is capable of finding a great deal of information very quickly, it is limited by resources it currently pulls data from, which include Yahoo, Bing and WolframAlpha. Apple might be looking to remedy this issue, however: A patent application filed with the U.S.Patent and Trademark Office back in March and published this Thursday entitled “Crowd Sourcing Information to Fulfill User Requests” could be the first sign of a huge addition to Siri. More →
Apple’s personal assistant has received some significant upgrades in its transition over to iOS 7, but is anyone actually using Siri? According to a survey by Intelligent Voice, a surprisingly small number of people on iOS 7 have used Siri even once, much less used it on a regular basis. Intelligent Voice interviewed 2,330 people for the survey, and only 15% of respondents said that they had used Siri. In a related survey, nearly half of a much smaller pool of respondents said that they believed Apple had “oversold Siri’s voice recognition capabilities.” Smartphone manufacturers have been attempting to perfect voice commands for years, and no matter how effective Siri truly is, many users just don’t want to take the time to learn a new method of interaction.
It looks like Apple is finally confident enough in Siri to call it a finished product. 9to5Mac points out that Apple has at long last removed references to Siri being in beta on its official Siri webpages. Siri has technically been in beta since its launch nearly two years ago and since then Apple has worked to refine the voice-enabled personal assistant to make it faster, more accurate and more consistent. Although Siri was a first of its kind for smartphone platforms when it was released in 2011, it has since gotten stiff competition from Google Now for Android and is expected to get another competitor next year when Microsoft releases its own Cortana personal assistant software for Windows Phone.
SRI International, creator of Apple’s voice assistant Siri, is hard at work on a new intelligent assistant known as “Bright” that could one day know what users want before they even ask for it. Google Now already attempts to do this using location data, Internet browsing history and more, however SRI International’s Bright project will be even more sophisticated. The software is currently being designed for cybersecurity and emergency response in order to aid IT professionals in preventing the spread of a computer virus, or even to help 911 operators send the proper assistance to the scene of an accident, but it could also one day come to consumer electronic devices as well. More →