New from Google: Voice Search for iOs and Changes in Gmail Compose

Google Google has been busy today with a couple of releases. The first is voice search for iOS and the second was an update to how compose works in Gmail.

Now you can use Google search by voice. I did a search for the date of the Battle of Bunker Hill using both Siri and Google Search. Siri came back with a series of text results including the date, while Google search by voice returned the date vocally, plus the Google search page results. According to Google the search is powered through their Knowledge Graph, which “’maps over 500 million people, places and things in the real world.” The new Google search uses naturally language so you can speak in full sentences. Like all voice search methods the results can less than perfect. However so far I have found that Google seems to understand me better than Siri does. Although Siri does have the advantage that it is available with a push of a button, while to use Google search by voice you have to bring up the app first. This iOs app was shown off in August, so there has been some question on why it took so long to get released. There has been speculation that Apple was blocking it because it competes against Siri, what ever the problem was it has clearly been resolved.

The second change that Google made was within their Gmail application.   Now when you go to compose an email it pops up like a chat window. You can then pull up another email to check something and the window remains.  No more having to save the draft pulling up the old email and then going back to the draft. You can unpin the window and move it around which I really appreciate. You can also open up multiple compose windows at once and hide the ones you are not working on. I probably will not use this but I can see how it could be valuable to some people. The change  to Gmail compose is being rolled out so if it is not available to you it will be soon.   I like the Gmail update from Google and I am glad that the new search by voice is now available on iOs.

Maluuba: Android’s answer to Siri?

Maluuba
What is Maluuba you maybe asking it?  Maluuba is a replacement for Siri on Android, with more power than Google Now.  These are just some of the things you can do with Maluuba:

 

  • Ask a question, like what is the population of New Jersey
  • Set an alarm.
  • Set up a meeting.
    An email will be automatically sent to the person you are setting the meeting up with.
  • Set a reminder.
  • Find restaurants, business or gas stations nearby.
  • See what is playing at a local theater
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Look up events in the local area
  • Play a song from your Google Music collection
  • Call someone in your address book
  • Open an application

Although it is similar to Siri, it is not a Siri clone. The first difference you will notice is that unlike Siri, Maluuba allows you to enter your question or request either by voice or by keyboard. Second, Maluuba doesn’t talk back to you. When you send a post to Facebook or Twitter, Maluuba will open the option, but unlike Siri you have to actually type the message or tap the microphone if you want to speak it.

I have run into some problems using Maluuba. For a while I was unable to search for what is playing at my local theater, it has me somewhere in Ireland. I just checked again and the problem seems to have been fixed. It would be nice if I could send a Twitter or Facebook post just by voice without having to tap, like how Siri works. Despite these complaints I really enjoy using Maluuba, if you have a compatible Android phone (it requires 2.3.3 and up) I recommend downloading and trying it out.

Siri Storage Habits Have Privacy Advocates Buzzing

Image Courtesy Apple

The Internets are quietly humming with the recent realization that Apple is, uh, absorbing your “personal” data if you use Siri – the voice-activated personal assistant (of sorts) that lives in the iPhone 4S (launched in October 2011).

What does that mean, precisely? Well, according to information disseminated by the ACLU, Apple’s privacy policy in relation to the Siri software allows the tech mammoth to harvest, send and stockpile “Voice Input Data” (what you say to Siri) and “User Data” (personal information on your phone, like contacts and associated nicknames; e-mail account labels; and names and playlists of songs on your phone).

This information is sent and stored at a data center in Maiden, North Carolina. From there, it remains murky what happens with your personal data. What does Apple actually do (or intend to do) with this data? No one seems to know, other than “generally to improve the overall accuracy and performance of Siri and other Apple products and services.” (again, according to the ACLU citing the Siri privacy policy, which is damn near impossible to actually find online). How long is it stored? Who actually looks at it and who is it shared with? Shoulder shrugs all around.

So murky is the status of stored Siri data, that IBM recently barred employees from using Siri on its networks – for fear of sensitive data and spoken information might be obtained by Apple. IBM CIO Jeanette Horan told MIT’s Technology Review that employees could still bring iPhones to work, but using the Siri technology would no longer be allowed. To be fair, IBM has also banned other apps, like Dropbox, for fear of information leaking out through file-sharing gaps in security.

This new wave of Siri-related negative news for Apple comes on the heels of a class action lawsuit filed against Apple claiming that they falsely advertised Siri’s capabilities and news that the Samsung Galaxy S3 has become the most pre-ordered device in gadget history with 9 million pre-orders (compared to 4 million for the iPhone 4S last year).

If you’d rather not have Siri enabled on your phone, it’s pretty easy to shut it off. Tap “Settings,”  then “General,” then Siri. Switch the Siri option to “Off.”

Siri Hack Can Start Your Car, Adjust Your Thermostat

Siri Hack

Siri Hack

Well, that is if you have a car with a Viper remote start system. Developer Brandon Fiquette has written a PHP script that would send notification to the remote start service and ultimately, start your car.

The hack was made possible by the Siri Proxy Server. The proxy server allows the custom creation of handlers – such as the included plugin, which allows you to adjust my thermostat at home.

With this software, you can create other handlers that could turn Siri into a full remote control. Of course, you need devices that would be remote controlled or internet accessible.

Move Over Siri, Make Way For Iris

Android users feeling a bit left out after the release of the iPhone 4s and its Siri personal voice assistance technology, listen up. There’s a new Android female voice assistant in town and her name is Iris. That’s right, Iris is Siri spelled backwards.

Like Siri, the Iris app for Android has a big blue button located at the bottom of the screen. A single tap brings up an on-screen microphone. Speaking near the phone it is possible to ask questions as well as to direct the Iris app to execute commands, such as to search for something, etc. The voice recognition is quite good, and Iris responds quickly. The heavy lifting for the voice to text recognition happens on the server end, as well as the artificial intelligence involved.

Iris for Android is currently free in the Android Marketplace and is named as Alpha software. Even though it is an Alpha version, I have found the app itself to be very stable. The Iris app is a small download.

Q: “What is a tire?”

A: “Tire (a rubber cover that protects the wheel of a vehicle and absorbs shock)

 

Q: “What is Android?”

A: “Android is a software platform for mobile devices powered by the Linux kernel, initially developed by Google and later the Open Handset Alliance”

 

Q: “Is Google good or evil?”

A: “Better not tell you now. Ask Lucy if it is.”

 

Q: “Ask Lucy if Google is good or evil.”

A: “They are not available right now, but I wiill ask them later.”

 

Q: “What is the capital of Romania?”

A: “Bucharest, the capital of Romania”

 

Q: “Is blogging real news?”

A: “Signs point to yes. Ask Dancing Alice if it is.”

 

Q: “Who is Dancing Alice?”

A: “They are sometimes a client on the Internet. I will search for it.”

 

Q: “Where do you live?”

A: “I live inside a computer. Where are you?”

 

Q: “What is your sex?”

A: “I am a female.”

 

Q: “Are you a female?”

A: “No”

So as you can see with this random set of admittedly somewhat off-the-wall questions, the answers can be varied.

Iris is not yet perfect, but this is an app that every Android phone owner should immediately download. It’s possible to waste hours on end interacting with Iris.

Neither Iris or Siri are quite up to the standards of their Star Trek counterparts, but the technology is getting there. The real world is never like it is in the movies or TV, but it’s clear that this type of voice recognition/artificial intelligence technology combo has a bright and useful future.

IRIS 9000 – Use Siri From Dock

IRIS 9000

IRIS 9000

ThinkGeek has put out a new device for your iPhone 4S. The IRIS 9000 dock with remote.

So you are at home. You plug in your iPhone 4S to charge and sit down to relax. You forget that you need to schedule that appointment in your phone, however, the phone is way over there. What do you do?

The new item, slated for Q1 2012, is a remote system that lets you shout at your phone for answers. You press the remote and ask Siri a question, the speaker system will broadcast the answer to you.

The remote does not have a microphone in it. The “built-in mic” says it can pick up your voice from a distance. So you may have to yell at the top of your lungs if you are in the other room.

Hey Siri! Where’s my wrench?

It’s a great way to keep your schedule set. It might also be a great alarm clock when you have the phone plugged in, and not lying on the bed next to you. This is only for 4S models. Price: $59.99

 

Siri Founder Dag Kittlaus Leaves Apple

Dag Kittlaus

Dag Kittlaus

Dag Kittlaus has been planning this for a while, reports at AllThingsD. But today, Kittlaus has left Apple and the program he created. All just weeks after Siri debuted.

He created and led speech recognition for Siri. Kittlaus was actually CEO of Siri since 2007. In 2010, Apple bought the software for an undisclosed sum (although Business Insider estimates around $100-200 million). Along with Kittlaus was Adam Cheyer (VP of Engineering), Tom Gruber (CTO), and Gummi Hafsteinsson (VP of Product), who are not expected to leave Apple.

Dag Kittlaus stated this was a mutual departure, planned before Siri was introduced last month. He wants to spend more time with his family in Chicago. He also wants to start brainstorming new ideas.

Siri, in the meantime, still continues to be a hit on the iPhone. The latest commercials show all the things you can now do with your mobile device. It has spawned a Siri clone (called Iris) on Android within 8 hours.

With Nuance Acquisition of Swype, Could We See iPhone, iPad’s Siri with Swype Technology?

This morning, Michael Arrington reported that Nuance is going to purchase Swype for over $100 million. This is the technology that lets you slide your finger across the on-screen keyboard to spell out words. It is also known that Nuance works with the new Apple product called “Siri“. Therefore, will we see this technology available for Apple keyboards, soon?

Let’s hope so.

Swype is a technology first discovered at TechCrunch a couple years ago. It was incorporated in some smartphones and found by moving the finger around as opposed to tapping, a person could type words a lot faster. This is the video TechCrunch put out in 2009:

Enter in Siri

Siri is the new technology Apple announced earlier in the week. To read more about that, check out Andrew’s article – Apple’s Siri Delivers on the Sci-Fi Dream.

Siri uses Nuance Technology – even though you might not find someone at Apple or Nuance that will say that. Before Siri was purchased by Apple, it had Nuance as the background software. The company tried Vlingo, but it just didn’t fit Siri’s programming.

So is it safe to say that Nuance is part of Siri? Well, unless Apple was working on their own software to replace Nuance, then yes. If they did change, then we would have heard something of them splitting. Let’s not even get into any patent debate that would have been reported if Apple was developing their own software.

As I always say: The possibility is there, but the probability is pretty low.

Swype on iPhone, iPad

Let’s get back to this idea – I used Swype technology and love it. By moving one finger across the screen keeps my eyes on the keyboard and not switching back and forth to what I am typing. Add in the spellcheck and I could be typing 40-45 words a minute on a mobile device (as opposed to 30 words a minute currently). Swype on iPad would be better, especially since most people use a one-hand type method if they are standing with the device coddled in the other arm.

With a personal dictionary, extensive language support and predictive tap suppot, Swype could be a great added feature to the Apple iPhone. Of course, it would also be a great addition to an Android phone, too (which is available with the FlexT9 Android Application).

So far, this is just a pipe-dream. But if it becomes a reality, the Siri application just got a little bit cooler.