Cortana: Microsoft Developing Next-Gen Personal Assistant

Microsoft is developing a personal assistant app called Cortana that will compete directly with Apple’s Siri and Google Now. Cortana derives its name from an artificially intelligent character in Microsoft’s “Halo” series. Essentially, the app will be able to learn and adapt while utilizing machine-learning technology and the Satori knowledge repository powering Bing. The app will likely be released somewhere between 2014 and 2016. Continue reading Cortana: Microsoft Developing Next-Gen Personal Assistant

Apple Unveils New Smartphones, Sets Launch of iTunes Radio

During yesterday’s press event at company headquarters in Cupertino, Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the iPhone 5s touting a 64-bit A7 processor with twice the number of transistors as its predecessor, promising speeds twice as fast. As rumored, the company is also offering the lower-cost iPhone 5c with polycarbonate design, starting at $99 with contract. In addition, Apple announced that its iTunes Radio service and redesigned iOS 7 are both scheduled to launch next week. Continue reading Apple Unveils New Smartphones, Sets Launch of iTunes Radio

Moto X May Reveal Why Google Acquired Motorola Mobility

Motorola introduced its Android powered Moto X on Thursday, the first smartphone released by Motorola since Google acquired the company two years ago. The new handset features persistent notifications, user-customizable design components, instant photo-capture and hands-free authentication. The defining feature, however, is the integration of Google Now. “The Moto X is the first in a series of hardware products that Google hopes will supercharge the mother company’s software and services,” reports Wired. Continue reading Moto X May Reveal Why Google Acquired Motorola Mobility

Tech and Pay TV Companies Are Changing How We Watch TV

Intel is one of many companies currently developing home entertainment technologies that could significantly change how viewers interact with TV. Tech companies are integrating advanced features and controls in TV connected devices, from voice activation, DVR and cloud storage sync. Other companies such as cable providers and manufacturers are also introducing advanced TV technologies as well. However, obstacles will come from content licensing. Continue reading Tech and Pay TV Companies Are Changing How We Watch TV

New IMDb App Update Includes Ability to Buy Movie Tickets

The free IMDb app, currently available as iOS and Android versions, now offers U.S. users the ability to purchase movie tickets. The update follows similar offerings from other apps such as Fandango and Apple’s Siri. Users can also tap on the “Search via Amazon Mobile” button in the iPhone or iPad app to learn more about purchasing movies and TV shows on DVD or Blu-ray (requires that the Amazon Mobile app is installed). Continue reading New IMDb App Update Includes Ability to Buy Movie Tickets

Gamification: Max Wants to be Your Personal Netflix Host

Netflix has launched a new recommendation service called “Max” that chats with users and plays amusing games to help viewers discover new TV shows and movies. The games center on genres and actors to help gauge user preferences. Available only on the PlayStation 3 for now, the Netflix blog reports that Max will be available for other devices in the future, with the iPad version expected next. According to Netflix, Max is “rumored to be the child of Siri and HAL 9000.” Continue reading Gamification: Max Wants to be Your Personal Netflix Host

WWDC: Apple Introduces Ad-Supported iTunes Radio Service

During yesterday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, Apple introduced its much anticipated streaming music service. The free, ad-supported iTunes Radio will feature a sizable music catalog, thanks to deals Apple has made with all the major record labels. The service features algorithmically programmed stations, more than 200 genre-based stations and a station that reflects music currently trending on Twitter. Continue reading WWDC: Apple Introduces Ad-Supported iTunes Radio Service

Expect Labs Software Understands Phone Conversations

Mobile carrier Telefónica is testing technology from Expect Labs that listens in on phone calls. The new type of artificial intelligence provides suggestions based on key terms in a phone conversation, by converting the conversation to text and offering instant relevant information. New investments in the San Francisco startup have been made by Telefónica, Samsung and Intel. Google Ventures invested in Expect Labs back in October. Continue reading Expect Labs Software Understands Phone Conversations

New Report Indicates Apple Will Launch HDTV This Year

Apple’s HDTV, which has reportedly been in development for years, is expected to finally debut later this year. While meeting with supply chain sources in China and Taiwan, Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White has gathered information from unnamed sources that suggest Apple will launch its iTV in the second half of 2013. White says innovative new features of the HDTV could make it a game-changer. Continue reading New Report Indicates Apple Will Launch HDTV This Year

Honda Latest to Introduce Siri Eyes Free in New Car Models

Honda has joined Chevrolet in providing vehicles with Siri integration. The automaker will implement Siri Eyes Free in three of its models this year: the 2013 Accord, Acura RLX and ILX. Drivers can connect to Siri by holding a button on the steering wheel and then use Siri to make calls, dictate text messages, play songs or use any of Siri’s other features. The driver’s phone will not light up during the exchange to avoid distraction. Continue reading Honda Latest to Introduce Siri Eyes Free in New Car Models

Mobile: Amazon Acquires Voice Recognition Company IVONA

Amazon has acquired IVONA Software for an undisclosed sum. Amazon already uses IVONA voice recognition software on the Kindle Fire, which helps users navigate the touchscreen and enables other voice commands. Amazon may now integrate the software into other Kindle products, and could also use the technology to create a competitor to Siri as rumors persist that Amazon could be working on a smartphone. Continue reading Mobile: Amazon Acquires Voice Recognition Company IVONA

Rumor Update: Apple to Partner with Sharp, not Samsung, on 2012 iTV

  • Add the following news to the growing collection of Apple rumors we’ve heard in the last month…
  • Mashable reports: “Apple’s relationship with Samsung has deteriorated, and the Cupertino giant may be working with Sharp on the next generation displays for upcoming devices such as the iPad 3, iPhone 5 and a little something called iTV, claims Jefferies analyst Peter Misek.”
  • According to Misek, the mythical Apple smart TV, which has been a popular subject of recent speculation, is not just a rumor. “Sharp is working on modified amorphous TFT LCD panels for the device,” indicates the post.
  • Misek places commercial production as early as February with a mid-2012 release date. The new HDTV will reportedly feature some use of Siri, Apple’s voice-activation feature.
  • While Apple has not made an official announcement yet, competitors are scrambling to prepare for another player in the market, suggests a related BGR post. Offers a New Approach to Search, From the Makers of Siri

  • “A new take on the search engine called uses the same AI technology that Siri does courtesy of the CALO project (which was funded by DARPA), and has launched its public beta,” reports Digital Trends.
  • Described as something similar to a hybrid of Pandora and Qwiki in its approach to an “information experience,” uses Facebook and Twitter accounts to help curate the Web for individual users.
  • “Via the ‘discover’ bar, you ‘trap’ information that comes up in visual-heavy icons with short text summaries. Hovering over these images lets you vote up or down if this is what you were looking for, share the information, or bookmark it for later,” explains the post. “Your feedback on these ‘traps’ is how the search engine learns and gets smarter, so eventually you’re receiving more and more spot-on results.”
  • “It’s yet another signal we’re moving from search to discovery,” suggests Digital Trends.

Amazon Purchasing Yap: Possible Siri Rival for the Kindle Fire?

  • In a quiet acquisition deal, Amazon is purchasing Yap, a speech-to-text startup that may find its voice recognition technology in future Kindle products.
  • “Yap is truly a leader in freeform speech recognition and driving innovation in the mobile user experience,” says Paul Grim of SunBridge Partners, which funded Yap in 2008.
  • “Yap’s technology may give Amazon the ability to add voice controls to its tablets capable of understanding far more than the rudimentary commands currently supported by Android software, potentially allowing the company to erode Apple’s dominance,” reports Forbes.
  • Apple has yet to make a move toward installing Siri on its iPad, so Amazon could get a jump start. “If Amazon puts Yap’s technology to good use and releases tablets with intuitive voice recognition in the near future, it may give Android-powered tablets a stronger handhold in the market,” suggests the article.

Human-Centric: Will Post-PC Computing be the Next Disruptive Wave?

  • In his compelling O’Reilly Radar post, digital media entrepreneur Mark Sigal offers his take on the post-PC wave and its major players.
  • Post-PC is the fourth computing wave that follows mainframes, PCs, and the Web.
  • Sigal suggests that Post-PC devices, which Morgan Stanley expects to number 10 billion by 2020, are becoming the most personal, mobile, social and human-centric tools that marry hardware, software and services.
  • For example, Sigal cites John Gruber of Daring Fireball, regarding Apple’s Siri voice-based system: “Siri is indicative of an AI-focused ambition that Apple hasn’t shown since before Steve Jobs returned to the company. Prior to Siri, iOS struck me being designed to make it easy for us to do things. Siri is designed to do things for us.”
  • Apple, Amazon and Google are the companies that best represent emerging trends in this space.

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