Google Begins to Roll Out Android Pie, First to Pixel Phones

Google is beginning to distribute its successor to Android Oreo: Android Pie, which has been known up until now as Android P. The company pushed the source code to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), and is updating Android 9.0 Pie to its Pixel phones. During the beta test, Android P was available on an array of phones, including the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6, and Essential PH‑1. It is not, however, available to consumers with Nexus or other devices. Continue reading Google Begins to Roll Out Android Pie, First to Pixel Phones

Lenovo Debuts the First Smart Display With Google Assistant

Lenovo has begun shipping smart displays integrated with Google Assistant that will allow users to visually interact with the voice assistant. The device was first shown at CES 2018, where it was demonstrated instantly displaying maps and sending them to the user’s phone. Assistant can also show step-by-step visuals of a recipe, present a visual weather summary, manage to-do lists — all capabilities similar to those of Echo Show. A three-month YouTube Premium subscription comes free with the purchase. Continue reading Lenovo Debuts the First Smart Display With Google Assistant

Google Aims to Promote Diverse Voices With Podcasts App

Google hasn’t had its own podcast app since it discontinued Google Listen in 2012. Now, it is unveiling Google Podcasts, an Android app that includes a “For You” section that keeps track of podcasts the user is subscribed to, and includes recommendations of top and trending podcasts and categories such as comedy, society & culture, news & politics, sports, religion & spirituality and the arts. Clicking on any podcast, the app will recommend related podcasts. It also offers an option to add the podcast to the user’s home screen. Continue reading Google Aims to Promote Diverse Voices With Podcasts App

TiVo DVRs Add Support for Amazon’s Virtual Assistant Alexa

TiVo is introducing voice control to its DVRs with support for Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa. Consumers who have TiVo devices including the Premiere, Roamio and Bolt boxes will be able to interact with Alexa for basic remote control commands such as skipping commercials with SkipMode, changing channels, and launching video apps like Netflix. TiVo joins companies including DirecTV, Dish and Verizon in adding hands-free, voice control features. At CES in January, TiVo announced its plans to add support for Alexa and Google Assistant. Continue reading TiVo DVRs Add Support for Amazon’s Virtual Assistant Alexa

Google I/O Reveals Long List of Product Upgrades and News

At the Google I/O developers conference, Google announced compelling updates including: Google Duplex brings new AI tech to Google Assistant; six new voices are coming to Google Assistant (including a version from John Legend); mobile operating system Android P gets an interface refresh, gesture controls, and expanded dashboard features; the new Android TV dongle supports 4K streaming and touts 8GB of storage; AI-powered Smart Compose comes to Gmail; Google Maps adds a new social layer and AR directions functionality by teaming AI with Street View; Google News curates online content via AI; and Google Lens is closer to delivering its text copy and style match features. Continue reading Google I/O Reveals Long List of Product Upgrades and News

Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

At Google I/O, the company revealed an upgrade to Android Auto that allows a user to plug her smartphone into the car and see all her apps with new templates presenting the apps in a more engaging manner. The upgrade also includes group messaging and RCS (Rich Communication Services) with support for Google Assistant. The update will allow a driver to group text friends via voice. Also announced is that Volvo will build Android Auto into its head units, one of the first automakers to do so. Continue reading Google Debuts Android Auto Upgrades, Inks Deal With Volvo

Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

At Google’s I/O conference, chief executive Sundar Pichai reflected on the backlash against Silicon Valley companies while, at the same time, promoting the company’s advances and ambitions in artificial intelligence. Among those were specific positive solutions, such as an AI-powered software that helps diagnose eye disease, and a demonstration of what Google Assistant — in a variety of voices and accents — can do for ordinary consumers, and how Smart Compose in Gmail will suggest complete sentences to make the process speedier. Continue reading Google’s Third-Gen Tensor Processor Unit Key to AI Ambitions

Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

During this week’s Google I/O conference, the importance of Google Lens to chief executive Sundar Pichai’s AI-first strategy became apparent. Google Lens combines computer vision and natural language processing with Google Search, for a solution aimed at consumers. Lens, described as “Google’s engine for seeing, understanding, and augmenting the real world,” resides in the camera viewfinder of Assistant and, soon, its top-end Android smartphones. Lens recognizes people, animals, objects, environments and text. Continue reading Upgraded Google Lens to Be Featured in Top Android Phones

Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Google revealed that its AI-powered Google Assistant is now connected to more than 5,000 smart devices in the home, up from 1,500 such devices in January. Among the devices now controlled by Google Assistant are air conditioners, cameras, security systems, thermostats, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Google faces stiff competition in the smart home arena, most notably from Amazon Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit and Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Samsung’s SmartThings and Bixby. Now the rivals must convince consumers to buy the devices. Continue reading Google Assistant Is Connected to 5,000 Smart Home Devices

Autodesk, Amazon Tweak Digital Assistants to Be More Natural

Autodesk is rolling out a new version of its Autodesk Virtual Agent (AVA) to replace its text-only chatbot in mid-May. AVA features an animated face and a New Zealand accent, with emotional responses that the company hopes will help customers engage. For example, if a customer says he’s having trouble, AVA will frown, say she’s sorry and ask how she can help, explains Autodesk manager of digital support channels Rachael Rekart. In doing so, Autodesk is following a trend of companies installing virtual assistants that are more helpful and personable. Amazon, for example, is updating Alexa to be smarter and more conversational. Continue reading Autodesk, Amazon Tweak Digital Assistants to Be More Natural

Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Google is at work creating consensus among every major global cellphone carrier to replace SMS with “Chat,” based on a standard dubbed the Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services. Chat is the consumer name for RCS (Rich Communication Services) and is not actually a new texting app but rather a new set of features inside an app (Android Messages) already installed on most Android phones. Google is leading development to ensure interoperability of Chat on every carrier’s service. Continue reading Google Aims to Replace SMS with an Android Messaging App

Google’s Machine-Generated Speech Will Sound More Human

According to members of Google’s Brain and Machine Perception teams, researchers at the tech giant have developed “ways to make machine-generated speech sound more natural to humans,” even providing examples of the more expressive speech in a company blog post, reports VentureBeat. Google also announced the release of its Cloud Text-to-Speech services, which could “be used to bring more natural speech to devices, apps or digital services that utilize voice control or voice computing,” the article explains.

Continue reading Google’s Machine-Generated Speech Will Sound More Human

Google’s New Shopping Actions Aid Competition with Amazon

Google recently launched Shopping Actions, a new program to help retailers compete with Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer. The program allows companies to list “products across Google Search, in its Google Express shopping service, and in the Google Assistant app for smartphones and on smart speakers, like the Google Home,” reports TechCrunch. It offers a universal cart no matter what device shoppers are using and Google earns money via a pay-per-sale model. The program is now open to any retailer in the U.S.

Continue reading Google’s New Shopping Actions Aid Competition with Amazon

IBM’s New Watson Assistant Helps Develop Virtual Assistants

With the launch of Watson Assistant, IBM is offering a new service that helps companies build their own voice-activated virtual assistants (like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri). The new service aims to help companies that want to build these for their own products, using their own datasets. IBM’s pitch includes a belief that companies should want Watson Assistant rather than a competitor because it allows for heightened personalization and privacy. According to IBM, Watson Assistant keeps the data to itself, differentiating it from other virtual assistants.

Continue reading IBM’s New Watson Assistant Helps Develop Virtual Assistants

Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

You may soon be able to command “Alexa, Translate” and get sophisticated results. According to sources familiar with the matter, Amazon’s latest aim for Alexa, its popular voice-enabled assistant, is to become a real-time universal language translator. They say the tech giant is “seriously exploring” ways to make Alexa more useful cross-culturally. In order to do so, Amazon must significantly expand Alexa’s current ability to translate basic words and phrases in languages including Spanish, German, French and Italian.

Continue reading Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

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