Apple Updates How Home App Controls Smart Home Devices

Apple has launched a new website for its HomeKit software and Home App, which are used to control connected appliances and other devices in a user’s house. The site displays the compatible devices from 50 different brands and allows users to group them so that multiple actions can be triggered with a single tap or voice command. Apple has recently faced more competition in the smart home space because of Amazon’s Echo, which can also operate home devices via voice commands. Continue reading Apple Updates How Home App Controls Smart Home Devices

Facebook Rolls Out Menus to Simplify Use of Messenger Bots

Facebook is updating its Messenger platform to make it easier for users to interact with bots. The interface now has a nested menu that categorizes all of the bot’s capabilities. Facebook also created a new option to allow developers to hide the chatting screen so that customers don’t even have to conduct conversations with bots anymore. This update seems to limit the capabilities of bots and future voice-computing software. It arrives as one launch partner of the bot platform is returning to email rather than using Messenger for customer notifications. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Menus to Simplify Use of Messenger Bots

Caavo Connects All Your Apps, Devices and Content Platforms

Caavo is a $399 savvy middleware box that connects content to virtually any device. Featuring eight HDMI ports and software that automatically configures to any device, Caavo offers a universal remote control with touchscreen and buttons, and works with Alexa (Google Assistant and Siri are soon to come). Caavo is designed to make watching a range of content on many different devices a seamless affair. The company was founded by Andrew Einaudi, Ashish Aggarwal and the late Blake Krikorian (who also co-founded Sling Media).  Continue reading Caavo Connects All Your Apps, Devices and Content Platforms

Android Wear 2.0 Comes to Smartwatches, Apple On the Rise

With Google’s streamlined Android Wear 2.0 on two new LG watches, starting at $250, and Samsung’s $300 Gear S3 smartwatch, fans of the Android operating system finally have some good smartwatch choices that even offer Google Assistant. Meanwhile, Apple is still the giant in the smartwatch market, cornering an estimated 80 percent of smartwatch sales last quarter. Although Apple didn’t release specific figures, it says its smartwatch “hit record numbers” in units and revenue during the recent holiday season. Continue reading Android Wear 2.0 Comes to Smartwatches, Apple On the Rise

CES 2017: Distinguishing Between Machine Learning and AI

As predicted, artificial intelligence has been one of the most repeated phrases of CES 2017. It seems every other vendor here is slapping the “AI” label on its technology. So much so that it inspired us to take a (short) step back and look at what AI is in relation to machine learning. The reality is: there are still very few applications that can be legitimately labeled as artificial intelligence. Self-driving cars, DeepMind’s AlphaGo, Hanson Robotics’ Sophia robot, and to a lesser extent Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant, are all AI applications. Most of the rest, and certainly most of what we’ve seen here at CES, are robust, well productized machine learning applications (usually built on neural network architectures), often marketed as AI. Continue reading CES 2017: Distinguishing Between Machine Learning and AI

Microsoft Brings Cortana to Nissan, Amazon Signs Ford Deal

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn delivered a CES keynote that addressed the company’s goal to integrate Microsoft tech into its automobiles. Nissan’s connected vehicles will use Microsoft programs including the Cortana voice assistant, Dynamics, Office 365, Power BI and Skype for Business. Microsoft is launching a new Connected Vehicle Platform based on its Azure cloud platform, and the Renault-Nissan alliance will be the first automotive partner for the tech giant’s new initiative. The move comes during increased competition in automotive tech; Amazon, for example, is looking to get its virtual assistant Alexa into cars and just announced a deal with Ford. Continue reading Microsoft Brings Cortana to Nissan, Amazon Signs Ford Deal

CES: From Learning to Thinking Machines – the AI Explosion

Artificial Intelligence is finally here. After nearly 50 years in the doldrums of research, the science of designing “thinking machines” has jumped from academic literature to the lab, and even from the lab to the store. This is largely because its precursor, machine learning, has been enjoying a dramatic revival, thanks in part to the commoditization of sensors and large-scale compute architectures, the explosion of available data (necessary to train advanced machine learning architectures such as recurrent neural networks), and the always burning necessity for tech companies to find something new. We expect AI to have a significant presence at next month’s CES in Las Vegas. Continue reading CES: From Learning to Thinking Machines – the AI Explosion

Google Tools Encourage Developers to Create More Chatbots

Alphabet recently unveiled a system of tools called Conversation Actions, designed to help developers create chatbots that work with Google Assistant. The move is the latest by Google to compete in the emerging digital assistant space with companies such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook that are investing heavily in artificial intelligence. Google’s virtual assistant “is the strategic centerpiece of an effort to keep its lucrative Web search business relevant in an age of mobile devices and wearable gadgets,” reports Bloomberg. “Just like its search engine sent people to the right places on the Web, the company’s assistant should connect users to the most relevant and useful services.” Continue reading Google Tools Encourage Developers to Create More Chatbots

Amazon Developing High-End Take on Popular Echo Speaker

Although Amazon declined to comment, sources say that the company is readying a premium Echo-like speaker for release in Q1 2017. The form factor is a break with Amazon’s cylindrical devices controlled by digital assistant Alexa. Instead, the new speaker will feature a seven-inch touchscreen that will tilt upwards, so users can see it when they are standing and looking at the speaker on a countertop. Sources add that, “at least one prototype version of the device places the speakers below and behind the screen.” Continue reading Amazon Developing High-End Take on Popular Echo Speaker

Comparing Newly Released Google Home with Amazon Echo

Google just released Home, a smart speaker that competes directly with the recently introduced Amazon Echo, powered by the virtual assistant Alexa. Since its release, Amazon’s Echo has been a hit, as users have relied on it for everything from a home automation tool to kitchen companion and shopping assistant. Now, the two products, from two technology behemoths, will face off in the marketplace. These devices are still early in their development, and the virtual assistants powering them offer limited abilities. Continue reading Comparing Newly Released Google Home with Amazon Echo

Apple Unveils New MacBook Pro, OLED Touch Bar, TV App

At yesterday’s “Hello Again” event in Cupertino, Apple announced its redesigned MacBook Pro featuring an OLED touch strip that the company has named Touch Bar. Apple’s lightest and thinnest MacBook yet, available in 13- and 15-inch versions, also features a larger Force Touch trackpad and Touch ID fingerprint scanner. A new 5K monitor from LG connects to the new laptop. Additionally, the company revealed its latest app for the Apple TV box, simply named “TV,” due in December. The app showcases content from the apps users already subscribe to, such as HBO Go, Hulu, iTunes and Starz.

Continue reading Apple Unveils New MacBook Pro, OLED Touch Bar, TV App

Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

Samsung just acquired Viv, an AI-powered digital assistant created by the founders of Siri. Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham created Siri and sold it to Apple in 2010, leaving shortly thereafter to found Viv in 2012. Viv will operate as an independent company, but provide services to Samsung, which ships 500 million devices annually. Viv’s highlights are that it allows interconnectedness of information across apps and services, and its AI can write its own code to accomplish new tasks. Continue reading Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

Google Unveils Pixel Phones, Daydream VR, Chromecast Ultra

Alphabet’s Google unveiled several new products at its annual hardware event in San Francisco yesterday, including a pair of Pixel smartphones; the $79 mobile Daydream VR headset; its Amazon Echo rival, the $129 Google Home; a multi-point network system called Google Wifi; and an upgraded Chromecast streaming dongle. Shipping November 4, Google Home is on sale now, with a free six-month subscription to YouTube Red. Also shipping in November, Chromecast Ultra supports HDR and 4K video streaming. Key to many of Google’s new products is its artificial intelligence software. Continue reading Google Unveils Pixel Phones, Daydream VR, Chromecast Ultra

Amazon’s New Fire TV Stick Includes Alexa Digital Assistant

Amazon’s newly debuted $40 Fire TV Stick is the cheapest way to access Alexa, the company’s digital assistant which enables users to find TV programs, purchase products on Amazon’s online store, hear news updates, play a song on Spotify or check the weather. According to Amazon, Alexa is currently capable of understanding 3,000 different commands and can also offer shows from 90 apps and channels. Fire TV Stick’s more than 4,000 apps include Netflix, Hulu, HBO, ESPN and Major League Baseball. Continue reading Amazon’s New Fire TV Stick Includes Alexa Digital Assistant

Facebook Messenger Unveils Native Bot Payments, Webview

Out of Messenger’s one billion users, 300 million people are now using its audio and video calling features every month. This represents tremendous growth from Facebook’s first trials with VoIP audio for Messenger in 2013, and video calling in mid-2015. More recently, Facebook launched Instant Video for live connections in Messenger and group audio calling, with hints on plans to introduce group video calling. The idea is that multimedia options will always be part of the ongoing conversation. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Unveils Native Bot Payments, Webview

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