We reported earlier this week over on our sister site 9to5Google that the extremely popular Swype keyboard was now available for Android users on Google Play. Unfortunately its arrival came after the implementation of the similar Gesture Typing feature that Google introduced in Jelly Bean. While we know Swype owner Nuance has a pretty tight relationship with Apple through its voice recognition technology being used in Siri (although Siri’s co-founder told us Apple could “likely replace Nuance without too much trouble”), a Swype exec has now confirmed the company has had talks with Apple over its revolutionary keyboard tech.
If Nuance gets its way with the just announced ‘Voice Ads’ mobile advertising platform, soon every mobile ad could include Siri-like functionality that lets you communicate with and ask questions about the product being advertised.
Nuance, the company behind the voice recognition module now used in Apple’s Siri, today announced a new project to bring its voice recognition technology to the mobile advertising world. The basic concept of the new platform, which Nuance made available through an SDK for advertising companies, is to bring a two-way, interactive conversation to mobile ads. As highlighted by Nuance in the video above, ads that implement the Voice Ads platform will allow users to engage in a Siri-like conversation with an advertisement:
Nuance Voice Ads gives mobile advertisers and creative agencies an opportunity to go beyond the limitations of the four-inch mobile device screen and create a conversation with consumers through the power of voice recognition. Voice Ads finally creates an opportunity for brands to deepen the relationship with their consumers, with targeted interactive ads that deeply engage their core audience – much in the way that the world’s most popular mobile personal assistants have deepened consumers’ relationship with their mobile phones.
In the demo above, Nuance shows an advertisement for a fictional deodorant brand that uses a magic 8-ball theme to answer any question that users might have. The ad of course ends in a pitch for the product in question, as you might expect. Other ads could allow users to ask specific questions about a product’s release date or specs…
AFP reported Apple is in court in Shanghai, China again today, but this time it’s over a lawsuit alleging the company copied components of Siri’s speech recognition software. According to the report, Shanghai-based Zhizhen Network Technology Co. claimed in pretrial proceedings that Apple infringed its patent related to voice recognition technology via Siri. While the suit notes that development of Siri began in 2007, there is no mention of Nuance. Apple currently partners Nuance with to implement the speech recognition component in Siri, and it is also a market leader that presumably has its own arsenal of speech recognition related patents.
Zhizhen says it patented its “Xiao i Robot” software in 2004, while Apple’s Siri, which made its debut with the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, was first developed in 2007.
“The company will ask Apple to stop manufacturing and selling products using its patent rights, once Apple’s infringement is confirmed,” Si Weijiang, a lawyer representing Zhizhen, told AFP.
“We don’t exclude the possibility of demanding compensation in the future,” he added.
The company is behind Siri-like software called ‘Xiao i Robot’ that it claimed was first developed before Siri in 2004. The technology is apparently available on some smart TVs and enterprise applications, but it doesn’t appear to be available as a consumer-facing app for smartphones or tablets. The video below appeared online when the company originally filed suit against Apple last year, and it shows the Xiao i Robot software running on a Lenovo smartphone:
Today’s noteworthy apps and updates list kicks off with the recently released iPad version of iTranslate Voice. As always, we will update the list throughout the day as more apps hit the store…
iTranslate Voice HD: iTranslate Voice is a great new iPad app, as it is one of the most unique pieces of word translation software on the market. Instead of typing words into an app, you talk in your language, and then the app will respond in the language of your choice. The entire thing is powered by Nuance—the same company that powers Apple’s Dictation on the iPhone 4S, new iPad, and Mountain Lion computers. So you know it is reliable. We have used the app for a while, and it is super helpful and easy to use. For those who are not a fan of voice, text-based translations are available. Thirty-one languages work in the app in addition to word defining. Sharing is also present. We highly recommend this iPad app. An iPhone version has also been available for some time, and it recently received a big update with new gestures and languages.
The Verge recently went hands on with Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S III launched earlier this month and during its review put the device’s new Vlingo-powered “S-Voice” feature up against Siri on the iPhone 4S. Other than the striking resemblance to Siri’s UI and canned responses, the first thing we notice is Siri appears to be much quicker than S-Voice running on the Galaxy S III.
When asked “Who is the president of France”, Siri quickly asks to search the web, while S-Voice takes a little longer but comes up with the correct answer. However, in most scenarios, both Siri and S-Voice request to search the web for the majority of the same queries. You’ll also notice S-Voice has no problem keeping up with Siri when scheduling appointments, but both have some of the same issues understanding The Verge’s commands.
S Voice consistently chews up my words when I try asking it questions, although it works better when instructed to schedule an appointment or set an alarm. It can also be used as an unlocking mechanism once you pre-record a pass phrase. That adds to the face unlocking option that’s native to Android 4.0 in being frustratingly unwieldy and planted firmly within gimmick territory — more than once I was stuck repeating “hello” without any recognition from the phone.
While we don’t have all of the info on S-Voice, we know it is using voice recognition technology from Vlingo, the same as the previous Voice Commander feature for the Galaxy S II. Last December Nuance acquired Vlingo. It’s no secret Apple is currently using Nuance to power speech in Siri, and Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky told us in October that Siri originally used Vlingo, but that Nuance has by far the most “IP in speech synthesis technologies”. However, he also noted Apple could likely easily replace Nuance if something better was available.
Since the introduction of Nuance speech technology in OS X Lion, which provides several new voice options in system preferences for the System Voice, many have compared the voice of Nuance-powered Siri on iPhone 4S to the improved text-to-speech included as free downloads within Lion. As noted by Reddit user Moosehadley, what you might not have realized is the downloadable “Samantha” voice for Lion is the same as Siri’s in the United States. Here is how to download it:
Open System Preferences> Speech> Text to Speech>System Voice> Customize> and select “Samantha” from the list. Apple will ask you to confirm the 469MB install.