Beats Music “Listen Now” feature starts rolling out to Shazam iOS app

Users of the Shazam iOS application have begun noticing that Shazam is testing a new “Listen Now” feature with the Apple-owned Beats Music streaming service. Like it does with iTunes Radio, Spotify, and Rdio, this feature allows a user to tag a song with Shazam and then instantly play it in Beats Music. We tested the feature this morning and it works as advertised. You’ll need a Beats Music subscription or a 14-day free trial in order to make use of the feature. With Beats now under Apple’s wing and Shazam a key partner for Siri in iOS 8, it makes sense that the trio would integrate in a fashion such as the new Listen Now button in the Shazam app. You’ll need the latest Shazam update to make use of the feature.

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As Siri gets more powers in iOS 8, we ask: Do you use it to its fullest or is it still a party trick?

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When Siri lost its beta tag almost a year ago, I suggested it might be a good time for those who’d been frustrated with its early performance to give it another chance. What I discovered through your comments was that Siri seems to be one of those things that polarizes views: people either loving it and using it every day, or dismissing it as a useless gimmick. Not too many people seem to fall between the two.

But Apple has continued to work hard on improving the service, adding new capabilities as well as refining its ability to handle existing ones. It might not yet be as sophisticated as its creators envisage for the future, but a year on seemed a good point to revisit the topic and find just how many of its capabilities people are using …  Read more

Former Siri team working on radically new virtual personal assistant with true artificial intelligence

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“Siri is chapter one of a much longer, bigger story,” says Dag Kittlaus, one of three of the original creators of Apple’s virtual personal assistant. The team, originally acquired by Apple as part of its $200M purchase of Siri, has now left the company to form a new startup, Viv Labs, to work on the rest of that story.

The vision described by the team in a lengthy piece in Wired is certainly ambitious. The problem with Siri, they say, is that it can only do things it has been explicitly programmed to do.

Though Apple has since extended Siri’s powers—to make an OpenTable restaurant reservation, for example—she still can’t do something as simple as booking a table on the next available night in your schedule. She knows how to check your calendar and she knows how to use Open­Table. But putting those things together is, at the moment, beyond her.

What Kittlaus and his team want to do is create a personal assistant which can learn to do new things for itself …  Read more

Wikipedia app re-launches on App Store ahead of iOS 8 integration

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The popular online service Wikipedia has re-launched its iOS app with a new native version that features editing and an offline mode. The free app has some unique features other than browsing through Wikipedia entires, as Wikipedia tells us:

  • Fastest way to get into the content. Other highly-rated unofficial free iOS apps have hurdles to access the content. Either downloading some content, or just simply not being able to dive right in to it. That doesn’t happen with the official app.
  • You can edit with this app, unlike other unofficial apps. And you can do it logged out, if you choose.
  • Wikipedia Zero for developing and emerging countries. If you’re on one of the participating operators, you can use Wikipedia free of data charges.

Wikipedia also shared some other important features:

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Apple TV overhaul not expected to debut until 2015

 

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A new report from The Information published today discussing the next generation of Apple TV says the new set-top box won’t be ready for prime time until at least 2015. This expectancy timeline aligns with previous 9to5Mac reporting on the Apple TV development progress.

According to the report, Apple employees managing the project have informed Apple TV engineers working on the next generation set-top box that it is currently not expected to reach completion in time to debut in 2014. Read more

Why is Apple hiring Nuance engineers? Apparently to replace Siri’s Nuance-powered backend

Nuance, the company that originally created the backend for the Siri mobile app that would later become the built-in virtual assistant in the iPhone 4S, has powered the speech recognition for the service ever since it launched. However, a new report suggests Apple may be looking to replace the company’s technology with a newer, faster system that could provide more accurate results.

A new Wired report cites several recent Siri-related Apple hires as evidence that the company is working on something big for the system’s next update. This isn’t really a new idea: rumors have been swirling since 2011 that Apple was investigating its own speech-to-text solution. That same year, Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky (not to be confused with current Siri Speech Manager David Winarsky) told 9to5Mac:

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iOS 8 code shows iPad split-screen, Maps transit in the works; Health interface changed late in development

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In the several months leading up to Apple’s 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference, we reported on several features on tap for iOS 8, the new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system, and OS X Yosemite. Many of the features we reported on were announced last week: improved messaging, revamped notifications, various user-interface enhancements, indoor mappingiCloud improvements for end-users and developers, Shazam in Siri, Voice Memos improvements, the redesigned Mac interface, multi-resolution mode for Xcode app testing, and of course, health-tracking integration. But some of the reporting did not become official last week. Namely, the Healthbook name, various improvements to Apple’s controversial mapping software, and a split-screen iPad multitasking mode.

Let’s go through each feature one-by-one.

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Coming in iOS 8: WiFi calling, Tips app, FaceTime call waiting, iBooks preinstalled, much more

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There’s a lot of new features coming in iOS 8 that you might have missed during Apple’s presentation today. Apple briefly flashed the slide pictured above and in it listed a bunch of new features that it didn’t talk about in length or at all during its keynote. Some of them include a “Tips app”, panorama on iPad, WiFi calling, FaceTime call waiting, rich text editing in Notes, iBooks preinstalled, and accessibility improvements like multi-device support for MFi hearing aids and the ability to exit Guided Access mode using TouchID. Read more

Apple announces new Siri features, including Shazam integration and “hey, Siri” always-on mode

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As expected, Apple has announced new Siri features for its iOS 8 mobile operating system, including the ability to analyze and identify songs automatically with recognition powered by Shazam. You can also purchase iTunes content directly from Siri, and dictate text in 22 new languages.

Also included is a feature that recently hit the iPhone through a jailbreak tweak that allows you to summon the iPhone’s assistant by saying “Hey, Siri.”

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iOS 7.1 code indicates Apple working on Siri for Apple TV

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Code found within the iOS 7.1 SDK suggests that Siri is headed to the Apple TV in future. Pierre Blazquez first found the reference on Friday. 9to5Mac has since confirmed that the code does exist in both iOS 7.1 and iOS 7.1.1’s files. The reference does not exist in 7.0.6.

The file is a supporting property-list resource for Assistant (Apple’s internal name for Siri), containing information about the feature. The UIDeviceFamily array declares what platforms are compatible with the feature.

As shown by Apple’s documentation, ‘1’ and ‘2’ represent the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad families. The ‘3’ represents the Apple TV family.

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New Steve Jobs email a treasure trove of information about Apple TV, Google ‘holy war,’ and behind-the-scenes strategy

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A new email from Steve Jobs that was published during today’s Samsung lawsuit (via The Verge) has revealed a lot about Apple’s plans for its products in 2011 and beyond. As we’ve previously noted, Jobs referred to 2011 as a year of “holy war” against Google, but this document goes above that and describes how exactly Apple planned to wage this war.

A few choice bits are below, followed by the complete email.

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