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

Apple Rolls Out its Latest iPhones, Smartwatch, Headphones

During yesterday’s Apple event in San Francisco, the company unveiled its next-gen iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. New features include the A10 Fusion SoC, IP67 water resistance, a home button upgraded with force touch tech, 25 percent brighter display panels, 12MP camera with new options, and support for wide color gamut displays and photography. In addition, Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 2 featuring second-gen S2 SiP (System in Package) — also now water resistant and GPS-equipped — and Bluetooth AirPods and other new wireless headphones to make up for the loss of the iPhone’s headphone jack. Continue reading Apple Rolls Out its Latest iPhones, Smartwatch, Headphones

Amazon and Lenovo Discuss the Integration of Alexa into PCs

Lenovo, the world’s biggest PC manufacturer, is in discussions with Amazon about integrating Alexa into its computers and other devices. Also recently, LG decided to integrate Alexa support into its SmartThinQ Hub. These moves underscore Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos’ goal to incorporate Alexa into a wide range of electronics, to spread the company’s influence to more consumers. Other tech companies attempting to do the same are Microsoft with Cortana, Apple with Siri and Google with Assistant. Continue reading Amazon and Lenovo Discuss the Integration of Alexa into PCs

With Smart App Genee, Microsoft Aims to Boost Cortana’s AI

Microsoft acquired Genee, a smart scheduling app that can help improve the company’s virtual assistant Cortana. Currently, Cortana can track packages and set reminders based on location among other tasks but, with Genee, it could also automatically set business meetings simply by recognizing key phrases in emails. That’s just one of the many tasks that an AI-enhanced Cortana would be able to do, all based on Genee’s ability to interpret language. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Continue reading With Smart App Genee, Microsoft Aims to Boost Cortana’s AI

Google Now Could Introduce Customization with New Feature

Google has tracked specific information since Google Alerts debuted, and several startups have tried to improve the experience. Google Now is the company’s current intelligent personal assistant, integrated into Android and search, and capable of delivering a wide range of information, from sports scores to weather. But it’s not easy to customize Google Now for individual interests; the user relies two not very intuitive or granular tools: on/off switches in the app’s setting or tapping on items to deem them not interesting. Continue reading Google Now Could Introduce Customization with New Feature

Amazon Promotes Integration of Alexa in Multiple IoT Devices

With the successful release of the Echo, Amazon now has more extensive plans for the intelligent assistant that powers the smart speaker. Via Alexa Voice Service-enabled voice commands, Echo plays music, turns the lights on or off and sets thermostats. Now, Amazon plans to use Alexa to power an array of devices in the home. Being a player in the Internet of Things is a goal of many other large technology companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft, as well as numerous startups. Continue reading Amazon Promotes Integration of Alexa in Multiple IoT Devices

Tablo Premieres Live TV and DVR App for 4th Gen Apple TV

Canadian-based Tablo has launched an app for Apple TV 4th generation devices that, with the company’s $200 Tablo DVR, will allow users to stream live TV and watch recorded programs. The Tablo DVR, seen as an alternative to TiVo, includes an over-the-air broadcast antenna, and two tuners for the $200 price. A $300 version offers four tuners; TV Guide data is an add-on at $5 a month. Tablo’s only downside may be that it requires some technical know-how to attach the user’s external drive to store the recordings. Continue reading Tablo Premieres Live TV and DVR App for 4th Gen Apple TV

Apple Envisions a Future Based on Siri, Intelligent Messaging

At the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook described how the company’s virtual assistant Siri will become ubiquitous across Apple platforms and capable of sending messages, making phone calls, ordering a Lyft ride and interacting with non-Apple apps and services. Mastering voice services is key to Apple’s success in an arena where Google, Amazon and others have made headway. Apple also plans to vastly improve Messaging, which, with third party apps, will empower it to do much more. Continue reading Apple Envisions a Future Based on Siri, Intelligent Messaging

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