November 11, 2014

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A few months back, YouTube launched its own weekly radio show on SiriusXM and today the Google-owned video sharing company announced a follow up program that will start airing on November 21st. Furthering its partnership with the satellite radio heavyweight, YouTube EDM 15 will run on BPM, the broadcasting outfit’s electronic dance channel.

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October 8, 2014

June 26, 2014

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YouTube may be in the process of starting its own music service, however the Google-owned company will soon be making the jump to radio as well. Yep, you read that correctly. Earlier today, Mountain View’s video streaming platform announced that it has made a deal with SiriusXM that will bring tracks from some of its featured up-and-coming recording artist to a weekly show aptly named YouTube 15.

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December 18, 2013

Update: TechCrunch reports that this video is fake.

Update #2: TechCrunch now reports the video is real and commissioned by Yahoo!, but not a real product yet.

With Yahoo’s acquisition of SkyPhrase, a natural language processing startup this month questions immediately arose as to how Yahoo would incorporate the technology. Now, thanks to a video on Daily Motion discovered by Android Police, we may have our answer as Yahoo prepares a Google Now/Siri voice-controlled personal assistant.

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June 11, 2013

Microsoft must be pretty happy with Apple’s decision to include Bing as the default search engine powered web results in Apple’s revamped Siri application heading to iOS 7 this fall. However, what does this all mean for Google? It could very well signal Apple’s increasing desire to cut its reliance on services powered by its biggest competitor in the smartphone space.

Before iOS 7, searching for something with Siri would often turn up the option to search for web results. Doing so would give you results through Safari using your default search engine (which by default is set to Google). Now, in iOS 7, web results will be displayed right in the Siri app, however, they will be powered by Microsoft’s Bing– and not Google.  expand full story

May 8, 2013

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June 19, 2012

We heard several reports in the past that Google was working on various evolutions of its Voice Actions platform for Android. We heard of “Project Majel” in December, which, according to reports, is the codename for a new voice-controlled assistant app similar to Siri. In March, TechCrunch reported on a similar project dubbed “Google Assistant.” According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Google is accelerating its plans to launch a competitor to Apple’s Siri:

Google, meanwhile, has accelerated plans to launch its own Siri competitor that would work on Android-powered devices, people familiar with the matter have said.

The report does not offer any additional details on the project, but it noted: “In coming weeks, Google is expected to unveil a lower-priced Android tablet that it developed with Asustek Computer.” Google recently acquired Clever Sense, the makers of popular local recommendations app Alfred, and some have speculated the technology could be included in Google Siri competitor. Many expect the Google tablet, mentioned by WSJ, to unveil later this month at Google I/O, where we could also possibly see some of Jelly Bean and this rumored assistant feature.

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May 3, 2012

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The last we heard, Apple was working with developers of Siri alternatives such as True Knowledge, the developers behind “Evi,” to iron out similarities between the app and the iPhone 4S‘s flagship feature. Apple is quick to warn developers who are submitting Siri-like apps not to mimic native features of the OS. Apple wants an app’s features to remain “distinctly different from the iOS behaviors and interfaces to avoid causing user confusion.” Developer Sparkling Apps reached out to let us know Apple rejected its latest app submission called “Voice Answer,” with Apple telling the developer the Wolfram Alpha-powered alternative is “too similar to Siri.” The good news for Android users is the developers have decided to release an Android-only version on available Google Play now.

Apple is not flat-out rejecting all Siri alternatives/competitors. Sparkling Apps already has an app called “Voice Ask” on the App Store that sits in the top charts of the Reference category. Evi remains on the App Store as well. However, the Voice Ask app employs the same True Knowledge database as Evi. While Apple did not offer a specific reason for why the app was rejected, it is possible that Apple is more inclined to reject Siri-like apps using Siri’s Wolfram Alpha knowledge base. Unsurprisingly, the developers instead decided to release Voice Answer as an Android-only app on Google Play.

The app provides spoken answers, optional keyboard input, and configurable items stored in the app’s memory. According to the developer, Voice Answer’s “speech recognition works better than that of Siri, especially with foreign accents,” and the app includes a chatbot called “Eve” that you can teach answers. While most of these features are also baked into Evi, it is unclear exactly why Apple is working with some developers to coexist peacefully with Siri, and then flat-out rejecting others without discussion. Fortunately, the app did not have any issues making its way onto Google Play, and it is even marketed as the “Voice Answer- just like Siri.” We told you in January about the number of Siri clones hitting the market with the release of Evi for Android. The Voice Answer Android app is now available on Google Play for $3.99, and the developers promised that support for messaging and email is on the way.

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February 27, 2012

Handset maker Motorola Mobility may have found itself in an uneasy place as both Microsoft and Apple are attempting to block its $12.billion sale to Google, but the company’s marketing department is as vigorous as ever. With this week’s spotlight on the latest mobile developments showcased at Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain, the Razr-maker published three provocative clips on its YouTube channel.

The videos pit the iPhone 4S-exclusive Siri feature against Android Voice Actions running on three different handsets: The Atrix 2, Photon 4G and Electrify. In each instance, Siri runs notably slower (and therefore less useful) than Android Voice Actions on Motorola’s devices.

Both Android Voice Actions and Siri need a network connection to upload audio samples of spoken queries. The cloud does the rest–speech recognition, parsing your query and beaming down the results. With that said, the performance gap that these clips highlight stems from the faster 4G networking on Motorola’s devices and has little to do with the type of processor, the amount of memory and other hardware features.

Two more clips are right below.

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February 20, 2012

Google is on a roll these days in regards to interesting patent filings. The company filed a patent for Android’s pattern unlock feature in November, and a new filing suggests more unlocking methods with one involving voice recognition and the other based on a two-icon methodology. Today, Patently Apple pointed to another document the search company filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on Sept. 29, 2011.

Being made public only recently, it describes methods and apparatus for a Google TV remote that lets you search for televisions shows, movies, music and other media simply by asking. This sounds a lot like Apple’s Siri voice assistant the rumor-mill speculates could enhance an alleged Apple-branded HD TV set.

The difference, per the publication:

Apple has had a similar feature under Remote for several years now, but it doesn’t relate to live TV as Google’s will. Google’s real competitor on this particular front will come from Samsung who just announced their latest TV remote with voice controls and a touch pad. The race to bring the best next generation TV Remote to market is officially on.

One embodiment of the invention describes a situation where a user searches for the popular sitcom “Seinfeld” simply by asking their Android phone, “When is Seinfeld on?” The phone would parse and send the query up to the Google cloud, beaming down the results to your Google TV set-top box.

GPS positioning could enhance the scope of the invention in interesting ways:

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January 24, 2012

Samsung kick started its anti-Apple Galaxy S II campaign with a November 2011 advert that enraged people who would wait in line for a new iPhone. A follow-up commercial downplayed Apple’s iCloud and iTunes Match services as the campaign continued on Facebook. Earlier this week, Samsung shifted gear with an advert that lambasted Apple’s iPhone over its lack of stock turn-by-turn navigation software akin to Google Maps with Navigation for Android.

Today, the South Korean consumer electronics conglomerate aired another commercial following the “Samsunged” theme and focusing on the barista character featured in the November 2011 commercial. More precisely, it mocks the barista’s latte-making art. Samsung reserved an ad slot during Super Bowl XLVI, therefore, things should get interesting come Feb. 5. Let us know in the comments how you liked the new commercial.

Another advert pitting Android’s speech-to-text capabilities against Apple’s is right after the break.

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January 23, 2012

We have seen Siri clones in the Android Market trying to pass themselves off as the real thing, and some Siri alternatives making their way to the Windows Phone Marketplace. Evi, on the other hand, might actually be the first true Siri competitor/alternative for Android and non-iPhone 4S iOS users.

Available on the App Store for 99 cents and free to Android users on the Android Market, Evi is the work of True Knowledge and its “core semantic search technology” better known as The True Knowledge Answer Engine. The 99-cent price tag on iOS is apparently to cover the cost of using Nuance voice recognition (the same voice recognition tech as Siri), which is not used in the Android version.

The app’s iTunes page explained Evi is capable of returning local data for the United Kingdom (along with the United States), which has been a complaint from U.K. Siri users since the iPhone 4S launch. According to TechCrunch, the app uses “an ontology of tens of thousands of classes into which” every possible user command can be recognized. True Knowledge said the app contains “almost a billion ‘facts’ (machine understandable bits of knowledge)” with the ability to infer trillions if necessary. It also reportedly uses all the expected sources, such as local results from Yelp, third-party websites, traditional web searches, and APIs.

While as of yet Evi is incapable of integrating with Calendar and Reminders like Siri, TechCrunch pointed out it sometimes provides more accurate and useful results for certain types of questions. Siri requests to search the web for an answer when users ask certain questions, such as “How do I make apple pie?” Evi, however, would provide a list of recipes with relevant links to that specific question. TechCrunch highlighted another example where Evi excels:

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December 14, 2011

Android and Me reports on a secret Google project aimed at adding a little conversational flare to Android Voice Actions. Dubbed Project Majel after Majel Barrett-Roddenberry – the voice of Star Trek‘s Federation Computer – it’s thought to be motivated by the success Apple’s seen with its clever marketing of the voice-controlled digital assistant Siri that debuted as an iPhone 4S exclusive on October 4.

According to the blog:

Majel is an evolution of Google’s Voice Actions that is currently available on most Android phones with the addition of natural language processing. Where Voice Actions required you to issue specific commands like ‘send text to…’ or ‘navigate to…’ Majel will allow you to perform actions in your natural language similar to how Siri functions.

Google is apparently working on Majel at clandestine Google X, the company’s top-secret lab headed by Sergey Brin. Majel should debut for Google search queries first. It’s unknown at this stage whether the technology incorporates some of the artificial intelligence traits exhibited in Apple’s Siri.
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November 29, 2011

Calling Cluzee a Siri competitor would be inaccurate as any Siri challenger would have to be built right into the bowels of the operating system, as is the case with Apple’s personal digital assistant. With that off our back, Cluzee looks like an interesting addition to Android’s already strong voice and search features. Developed by Tronton, Cluzee is billed as a new type of virtual assistant specialized in finance and information management.

It sports built-in calendar, reminders, filters, advanced search capabilities, voice recognition, voice synthesis and personal analytics, among other features. Tronton partnered with about 50 service providers that help Cluzee provide personalized services.

You can say stuff like “Cluzee, I’m looking to buy this or that in the next few weeks” and it’ll apply your criteria to filter the incoming deals and advertisers. It also does social filtering so you can say “if I get messages from these people, notify me immediately” or “include them in my daily brief”, which is basically your entire summary for any given day.

Just like Siri, Cluzee too employes machine learning, conversational interface and third-party data sources on the web to deliver the results. Cluzee is available on Android Market and will be coming to iPhone soon and just about any platform via an HTML5 web app. More information is available at the Cluzee web site. Go past the break for SocialTechPop’s interview with Cluzee’s Ashish Patwa from TechWeek in Chicago in July of 2011.

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