Confirming earlier reports, the NY Times says that Google will introduce a voice-controlled digital assistant device for the home tomorrow at its developer conference in San Francisco.Part of Google s motivation here is that it sees a successful product that it believes it can improve upon and partly the move is defensive.The Alexa assistant relies on relatively structured voice commands and is often stumped by queries where it doesn t have available data or question phasing is confusing.While Amazon does have search technology A9 , it doesn t have Google s massive search index, Knowledge Graph, AI chops or its historical understanding of and ability to answer questions.Google s search assets and structured data could enable it to build a broader set of capabilities into Home.Virtual assistants offer the potential realization of the conversational search concept Google has been discussing and promoting for the past few years.
It s based on existing technology, including Google Now.The assistant will power Google s upcoming Amazon Echo competitor, Google Home.Speaking at the beginning of the keynote at the Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai described the technology as a conversational assistant that can carry on an ongoing two-way dialogue.We want to be there for our users asking them, How can I help?'Pichai said.The technology is voice-activated and available across devices, but the interface is packaged up inside of a chatbot — something like, say, Facebook Messenger s M. We are getting ready to launch something later this year, Pichai said.The Google Assistant is built into the Allo mobile messaging app, which is also being introduced today.Over the years Google has amassed a whole lot of AI talent and technology.And the systems are regularly improving — last year at I/O Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said Google s speech recognition technology was down to an 8 percent word error rate.Indeed, today Pichai said that 1 in every 5 Google search queries on Android in the U.S. is a voice query.But even though Google s AI technology represents value for the company internally, in the past year Google has shared some of that technology with the rest of the world as open source code.Now it s clear that Google is a few steps ahead of Apple.Earlier this week The Information reported that Google would give third-party developers access to speech recognition, some aspects of the Google Now personal digital assistant, and Android s Google Now On Tap feature for recognizing known entities mentioned in text onscreen and providing explanations and relevant links.While the world s biggest technology companies have been fixated on chatbots lately, the whole idea itself is not new.Voice-activated assistants like the Alexa-powered Amazon Echo speaker are another emerging medium, but currently bots seem more likely to be adopted by the masses.
Forget about chatbots, Google's baking its digital assistant right into your life.Google Assistant—a new smart assistant announced by CEO Sundar Pichai at Google I/O 2016—weaves together the complex information that Google already has about the world and the detailed information that the company already has about you to create a helpful voice-driven AI that revolves around your world.while standing in front of a famous sculpture with your phone, and the bot is able to mix location data and image recognition to identify exactly what you re looking at and provide the answer in seconds.and the Assistant pulled up results of films that Google thinks he would like, playing at his local movie theater.Follow-up questions—all delivered in natural language, using commands like Is it any good?—let him refine the search to kid-friendly movies, and even buy tickets to his chosen show.
20 percent of queries on Google are performed via voice search.Because voice assistants, such as Google Now, are making up progressively larger percentages of our searches, Google wants to ensure its industry leading voice processing natural language processing platform is up to the task.It s designed to work with Google Home, an Alexa-like always-on listening device that helps you manage everything from search, to playing music or even having a conversation with Google — or so it says.The digital assistant is designed to provide an on-going two-way dialogue with Google and the company wants to handle your most mundane tasks and searches without any real input from you, outside of your voice.The demo was rather impressive, featuring Google Assistant using contextual clues when performing a search about The Revenant, that led to information, trailers, reviews and ultimately a QR code to buy the tickets based on conversational language.If the timeline is the same as other products announced today, expect fall to be a busy season at Google.
Google unveiled a new video calling application named Duo that will compete with Apple Inc. s FaceTime.Duo will work on both Android and Apple Inc. s iOS mobile operating system and is designed to adjust to slower, low-bandwidth networks, said Erik Kay, a product manager for Google, during a presentation at the company s IO developer conference Wednesday.It is encrypted and switches automatically between Wi-Fi and cellular networks, he added."We obsessed over every last detail of video transmission," Kay said."It has a feature named Knock Knock that shows a live video of the caller upfront, letting the receiver see who is calling and what they re doing.That s part of Google s goal to draw people into more conversations over its services, said Kay.Duo works with Allo, a new mobile messaging app, that includes an artificially intelligent digital assistant and Google s search engine.The two new offerings may help Google compete with Apple s FaceTime video calling service and Facebook Inc. s messaging services WhatsApp and Messenger.Google, the main division of Alphabet Inc., has lagged behind rivals in messaging and broader communications apps in recent years.
Google just announced Google Home, a smart home appliance that consumers can speak to and do things like order food, play music, and get updates on traffic and weather.The sleek, speaker-shaped device is Google's highly anticipated answer to Amazon's increasingly popular Echo product.Google didn't announce a price for the device, which is set to launch later this year.The Amazon Echo costs $179.99.Onstage at the Google I/O conference, Google CEO Sundar Pichai credited Amazon with building excitement for the idea of a home gadget that can answer your questions.Here's our first look at Google Home:Home is a stand-alone hardware product, but it's based on another new Google service that Google announced on Wednesday: Google Assistant, a voice-based, digital assistant that's similar to Apple's Siri, or the Alexa virtual assistant at the heart of the Amazon Echo gadget.Google wants to put its new Assistant service across a variety of new products.But one of the most high-profile incarnations of the virtual assistant will be in the Home gadget.Home will be able to play music as a Wi-Fi speaker as well as answer your questions based on Google Search.The company said users would be able to customize that baseplate to match their home's color scheme and decor.Home will also integrate with the smash-hit Google Chromecast and other Google Cast-compatible devices, so you can control video and other speakers with your voice.It will integrate with Nest smart thermostats and other connected gadgets.NOW WATCH: How to see everything Google knows about youLoading video...
Google announced a dizzying array of new apps, devices and platforms Wednesday to keep rivals from turning its once-dominant search engine into a relic in the age of mobile computing and beyond.The most important unveiling at Google s I/O developer conference near its Silicon Valley headquarters was Allo, a mobile messaging app featuring a digital assistant that uses artificial intelligence to respond to texted questions and perform other useful tasks.Then there was Duo, a video calling app to rival Apple Inc. s popular FaceTime video conferencing.The Alphabet Inc. division also revealed Google Home, a gadget to answer voice-based questions that competes with Inc. s hot-selling Echo device, and Daydream, a suite of software and hardware for virtual reality, an area where Facebook Inc. has made early strides."If Google can use its lead in artificial intelligence to build digital assistants that help people through connected devices whereever they are, then it has a chance of replicating the success of its search engine, Ask and other analysts said."Google became one of the world s most valuable companies by making a search engine that sucks in billions of queries people type into web browsers on PCs and phones.The bet is that whoever makes the most engaging and useful digital personal assistant, also known as the conversational interface, will control the layer between a person and their digital life, and collect the most revenue and profit from being that privileged broker.Key to Google s quest for more consumer attention in a mobile computing world is software that better anticipates their needs and learns about them.People will summon it by using the same call out -- "OK, Google" -- that is used in other existing Google mobile apps.
Step aside Alexa, Google has its own voice-based digital assistant: Google Assistant.While it lacks a proper or even pretty name, this could be the mother of all voice-activated assistants."Our ability to do conversational understanding is far ahead of what other assistants can do," said Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who announced the new assistant from the Google I/O 2016 developers conference keynote stage on Wednesday.It will let users manage and access schedules, find out about traffic, track packages, and ask Google Assistant general interest questions.Google Assistant will actually work during conversations and automatically try to help with, for instance, dinner reservations the group is discussing.It will also bring in outside, relevant information like restaurant cards, the kind you normally see in Google Now and Google search results , and then guide users through setting number of diners, time to dine and making reservations with Open Table.
Credit: Derek WalterHangouts may not be a dead app walking after all.It sure seemed like the social app s days were numbered after Google s splashy rollout of Allo and Duo, its new fancy, AI-driven messaging and video chat apps.But a Google spokesperson confirmed an earlier report that Hangouts is staying put in the company s portfolio of mobile and desktop apps.Down the road Google could eventually nudge those users toward Allo, or integrate some of Allo s smart replies and search capabilities, with an eye toward business and productivity.Why this matters: Google has to keep two sets of users in mind as it tries to refocus its messaging efforts.The consumer push will be with Allo and Duo, which are cross-platform apps that infuse new messaging strategies with Google s new Digital Assistant.
Arriving this summer on Android and iOS, Google's new messaging service, called Allo, will come with all the text, photo, and video sending/receiving features found in similar apps such as Messenger, WhatsApp, and Line, but with a few added extras.Google is expecting Allo to stand out in the crowded instant messenger market thanks to its heavy use of machine learning and artificial intelligence features, which the company says can "keep your conversations flowing and help you get things done."One of these features is the inclusion of Smart Replies, which is also found in Google s Inbox email product.It offers short, contextually generated responses that users can tap on instead of typing out a reply.Possibly the most impressive aspect of Allo is the fact that Google will be integrating its recently announced digital assistant into the messenger."We believe users are switching from app to app to get that information ... and the core of communicating with the people you care about gets lost in that deluge of information," said Google product manager Amit Fulay.
These computer plug-ins - powered by AI but designed to chat like humans - are making their way across Facebook and Google and adding a new layer to the digital assistant apps we've all got used to.Now it looks like Microsoft is building a 'Bing Concierge Bot' designed to offer help and assistance wherever you need it, across a multitude of apps from Skype to WhatsApp , the details of which were leaked in a job posting picked up by ZDNet.Microsoft already has Cortana, of course, but the new bot will live inside messaging apps to serve your every need.Some like it botMicrosoft declined to comment on the story but already has a bot framework in place that enables developers to build these kind of tools.It looks like the company wants a bot of its own too, powered by Bing and third-party plug-ins.Like Google Assistant and Facebook M, much will depend on how slick the external integrations are with restaurants, cinemas, taxi firms and so on .
Apple may have been the first to popularize the concept of a digital assistant when it brought Siri to the iPhone 4s in 2011, but Google was able to surpass Siri less than a year later with its own digital assistant, Google Now.Even though Apple hasn't said how they'll use those new technologies, it doesn't take a genius to see how they'll fit in.Let's take a look:VocalIQIn October of last year, Apple bought a company called VocalIQ, which has a technology that helps digital assistants learn every time it interacts with a person's voice commands.As a developer, you have the ability to change your system s interpretation or behavior directly in your app.Now imagine Siri having the power to learn the more people use it.Apple's history of keeping that kind of data private may be great for your own peace of mind, but it also means Apple's AI services suffer.There's massive potential in voice-powered assistants, but so far none of them have become useful and ubiquitous enough to pull people away from their smartphones.More from Tech Insider:Amazon customer service has a guy named Thor, and he s on a hilarious 'quest' to help youIndia just launched a mini space shuttle on top of a rocket and the photos are amazingWe needed a theoretical physicist to explain this mind-boggling moment in 'Game of Thrones'Bill and Melinda Gates' biggest accomplishment is 'changing expectations' about the worldNew leaked images of the iPhone 7 appear to confirm one of the biggest rumors AAPL NOW WATCH: This is Google s answer to the Amazon EchoLoading video...
Well, perhaps we spoke too soon.DON T MISS: This is probably our first look at a real iPhone 7Specifically, the publication relays that Apple will finally offer official Siri APIs to developers, thus paving the way for third-party integrations, the kind that Amazon Echo users can t seem to get enough of.There s a few integrations possible via HomeKit, like Philips Hue lightbulbs or Nest, but limiting the digital assistant solely to internet-connected devices was cramping Apple s style.A preview at WWDC would pave the way very nicely for an appearance in the next version of iOS, which normally lands alongside the new iPhone in the fall.As we highlighted just a few weeks ago, Viv — an AI platform created by former Siri employees — not only seemed to lap Siri functionality wise, but also showcased the benefit of allowing third-party developers to tap into an AI platform.While the degree to which Apple allows developers to tap into Siri remains to be seen, perhaps we re not too far off from a time where we can finally order pizza, book restaurant tables, or really do more than check the weather with Siri.
Sources tell Efrati that the company is building a voice-activated device powered through its virtual assistant, Siri, that could let people ask questions or complete activities like setting a timer.At the same time, Apple is also reportedly preparing to start letting outside developers make their services available through Siri.For example, imagine asking Siri to find you a restaurant, which it can already suggest via Yelp, but then also asking it to book a reservation, too, which might happen through OpenTable.Sounds pretty similar to Viv, a new digital assistant service made by Siri's original creators which shines because of its ability to seamlessly integrate with a bunch of different services like Venmo,, and Uber.This "conversation as a platform" format is all the rage in Silicon Valley right now, with Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and a slew of startups all rushing to find new ways to make it easier for users to connect to all the services they need through a single interface or chat.Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.NOW WATCH: Clever ways to reuse your old iPodLoading video...
Build 14352, which comes two weeks after the release of build 14342, comes with a few useful update to Windows 10 s Cortana personal digital assistant and the Windows Ink feature for writing on apps with a stylus that was released to Insiders last month.Cortana now lets you set a timer, cancel it, and find out how much time is left.Currently the Cortana s Groove smarts are limited to U.S. English users, but the feature will become available to more users over time, Aul wrote.As for Windows Ink, the Sticky Notes application is getting more sophisticated.Again, this is only available for U.S. English users right now; access will expand with time.The ruler in Windows Ink now features a compass, Aul wrote.Elsewhere, there are a few other changes.The Windows game bar, with its DVR function, now works in full screen mode with more games, specifically Battlefield 4, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, Diablo III, Dota 2, League of Legends, and World of Warcraft.And upgrading from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 Enterprise is simpler.These periodic scans will utilize Automatic Maintenance—to ensure the system chooses optimal times based on minimal impact to the user, PC performance, and energy efficiency—or customers can schedule these scans.Rendering with devices with Intel HD Graphics 3000 or Intel HD Graphics 2000 integrated graphics when using the Edge browser wasn t working properly, but now it is.
There are numerous lesser-known ways you can incorporate Microsoft's digital assistant into your life.Here are four useful tips.Open key Windows utilitiesCortana can help you add a printer.Many technical questions you have will be answered with specific instructions displayed on the Cortana pop-up panel, saving you a trip to the Web.As soon as I asked how to turn on airplane mode, however, my question was answered.Just say something like, Hey Cortana, what s the latest news on Rafael Nadal, and a selection of top news headlines will pop up.
The emergence of Chinese social media has seen the rise of the WeChat app, which has become a social commerce app in mainland China where it can be used to pay for almost anything straight from a phone.While the days of mobile apps are far from over as some doomsayers in the industry have suggested , developers – and users – are now looking at ways the plethora of apps can be better managed.Rather than download 10 separate apps, or be pointlessly loyal to one, wouldn t it be better if you just told your phone – or Facebook, or WeChat, or WhatsApp – where you wanted to go, and were informed of the best option?WeChat already offers taxis in China via Didi Kuaidi, while Apple just invested in Didi Chuxing, so is likely lining up something similar.While zombie apps that never get used should be at the front of your own queue for deletion iResearch reports that only 5 per cent of apps survive for five months after installation , in the long term apps that offer only ring-fenced access to content or services will disappear.Netherlands-based company Unit4 thinks it s gone one further by creating a digital assistant called Wanda that inserts itself into existing apps.
Siri is due for a big upgrade.Apple now has the tech in place to give its digital assistant a big boost thanks to a UK-based company called VocalIQ it bought last year.According to a source familiar with VocalIQ s product, it s much more robust and capable than Siri s biggest competitors like Google Now, Amazon s Alexa, and Microsoft s Cortana.After the acquisition, Apple kept most of the VocalIQ team and let them work out of their Cambridge office and integrate the product into Siri.Before Apple bought the company, VocalIQ tested its product against Siri, Google Now, and Cortana, and the results were impressive.Those commands can be long and complicated, and the other assistants had trouble catching everything.For example, imagine asking a computer to Find a nearby Chinese restaurant with open parking and WiFi that s kid-friendly.In fact, VocalIQ only considers itself a success when the user is able to complete a task without looking at a screen.In theory, Apple would be able to train Siri to do everything much better using VocalIQ.VocalIQ can also filter out extraneous noise to figure out exactly what you re saying, thus making it more accurate than Siri is today.It s able to take in all the noise in an environment — the TV, kids shouting, whatever — and determine with a high probability which sound is actually the user s query.
View you've heard about the Amazon Echo and have been wondering what it's like to use it before committing to buying one, there's now an online tool that lets you test it out as much as you want, right in your browser.You don't need to use the name Alexa, you can just ask it any question and, in most cases, get a great answer back.Originally developed last year at a hackathon by UK-based Sam Machin, the barebones page is a simple, but powerful demonstration of a product both Google and if rumors are to be believed Apple are attempting to emulate.A similar Amazon Echo testing device debuted earlier this month for mobile devices called Lexi, and yet another device, called Triby, recently launched as one of the first non-Echo devices with Alexa functionality.With millions of products available via voice, and a growing library of non-ecommerce-based voice functions, Alexa already has a huge lead on any potential competition.But since monopolies rarely serve consumers, we can only hope that Google and Apple hit the accelerator on their digital assistant projects and catch up to Alexa sooner rather than later.
The first, Google Assistant, is a voice-activated digital assistant which builds on all Google s years of investment in deeply understanding users questions , as Google s blog declared.It s no surprise that Google is focusing heavily on voice search and natural language going forward when you consider that in 2015 alone, voice search rose from statistical zero to make up 10% of all searches globally, according to Timothy Tuttle of the voice interface specialist MindMeld.For example, during a public demonstration in New York, Viv showed off its ability to accurately respond to queries like, Was it raining in Seattle three Thursdays ago?Rob Kerry, in a presentation on the future of search at Ayima Insights, advised website owners to start integrating Q content into their sites in order to rank better for natural language searches and better satisfy the needs of users who are asking those questions.Q content can also be excellent material for featured snippets, which is another great way to gain visibility on the search results page.So consider if there are ways that you can create and incorporate content with a more conversational tone, to match this.