The iPhone 4S may not have been the iPhone 5 that tech pundits were looking for, but that single little S – Siri – has turned the phone business on its ear. Voice capabilities, once relegated to the “neat little distraction” category, are now having buckets full of R&D dollars chucked at them as Apple competitors try to develop a Siri-killer. Today Nuance, the maker of Dragon Naturally Speaking, announced that it is buying Vlingo, maker of, well, the Vlingo voice control app, in a blatant bid to knock off Apple’s sweet talker.
Certain topics always seem to stir up heated arguments in a hurry. Some of these include politics, religion, capital punishment, gay rights, abortion, and in some circles, Apple. Mix any of two those together and you end up with a recipe for a combustible conversation, which is what happened when Apple's Siri voice recognition software redirected users seeking an abortion clinic to an "anti-choice" organization.
While its harsh to judge a device against the oft-outlandish rumors preceding its launch, the disappointment surrounding the iPhone 4S launch was justified as the upgrades did not seem commensurate with the long gap between the 4S and its predecessor. However, the smartphone’s voice-activated personal assistant Siri is an entirely different matter, with even Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently calling it a “significant development.” Microsoft’s Craig Mundie, though, is not in awe of Siri.
Have you heard of Siri? Of course you have, unless you turned the dial on your Apple ear filters to 11. Siri is one of the most talked about features native to the recently released iPhone 4S, and it's been garnering a lot of attention and praise, and maybe even a bit of envy in the Android camp. The cool thing about Android, however, is any developer can code a Siri equivalent to work with Google's open source mobile platform, and to prove it, a team of Android developers went and did just that. Sort of.
Apple’s Siri voice control system is undeniably cool, but it’s also still technically a beta product. As such, there are some kinks to work out, but this is a pretty big one. The default setting for Siri is that it can be activated when the phone is locked, which is handy. But it turns out that even if you use a passcode, anyone can fire up Siri without knowing your code, and send texts and emails, or snoop in your calendar.
Ah, the bathroom. Those little bursts of personal time are some of the best moments of the day, an all-too-brief period when screaming kids and jerk coworkers leave you alone and the worries of real life fade away, letting you game on your smartphone in peace. Well, at least until you plunk that smartphone into the toilet, that is. The New York Times R&D Lab’s hard at work to make sure that your Android keeps dry; it's whipped up a “Magic Mirror” designed to help you get a hands-free Interwebs fix in the john.
Using a pen and paper is so yesterday. The same goes for typing. Come on people: We’ve been hunting and pecking for more than 100 years! Where’s the progress? Our thoroughly modern civilization deserves a progressive method for data input. If you haven’t already embraced the speech-recognition features baked into Windows 7, it’s about time that you did. The future is now. Let us show you the way.
It was just back in 2007 when Google launched the GOOG-411 service to consumers. A user would call, ask about the number for a business, and Google's magic computers would spit out the required information. At the time, Google's voice recognition seemed like magic, and it only got better. But today the Google 411 team has announced that, sadly, GOOG-411 will be shut down on November 12.
The 411 number wasn't created as a public service, rather it was a test bed. From all the voice data, Google was able to create excellent voice to text engines that we now enjoy in Android with Voice Actions, Voice Input, and Voice Search. Google isn't abandoning the technology behind GOOG-411, it is just redirecting focus to a new generation of mobile products.
Users without access to Google's smartphone voice features can still get some help. Sending a text to 466453 (GOOGLE) with a location and business, will get you a reply filed with information. We're sorry to see GOOG-411 go, but also excited to see what Google does with voice recognition next.
A few of you were pretty pissed off to learn that your foul vocabulary isn't welcome on the Nexus One, and that the smartphone's built-in voice recognition automatically filters curse words. We imagine Google will eventually release an update giving you the option to disable the filter, but until then, you're #### out of luck. Kind of.
While there's currently no way to turn the filter off, there is a workaround and it comes courtesy of Neil Gaiman, who posted his method on Twitter.
"For the curious: swear into a Google & it transcribes it as ####. But if you swear and then say "dot come" it will write what you said," Neil tweeted.
Elegant? #### no, but according to Gizmodo, it works, so it will have to do until the next update.
Asustek is trying to further cash in on the huge success of its Eee PC netbook range. It has some very ambitious plans and innovative products up its sleeve. One of those innovations happens to be voice-controlled Eee PCs.
"The first Eee PC or Eee Top products implementing voice-recognition and features will be ready by Q3/Q4 2009 – with our dedicated development team working with third parties in both Japan and the US and reporting directly to me. So this is something we will see very soon, later this year." Shen told Tech Radar.
Asus will have to come up with a truly remarkable voice-recognition technology to even pose a threat to our beloved keyboard.