FreedomPop brings its free voice, text & data plans to tablets including a $319 iPad mini

 

FreedomPop, the carrier offering free and cheap data plans on Sprint’s network, today announced that it’s bringing its free voice, data, and text plans to tablet users starting with the iPad mini and Samsung Tab 3. Since LTE iPads only support data over their cellular connection, the carrier provides iPad users with Apple headsets with mics for making calls and an app that routes calls/texts through its own VoIP platform.

While there are competitors like Skype that enable VoIP calling on iPads already, FreedomPop has a couple things going for it. The company’s CEO Stephen Stokols notes that “unlike some apps, we actually provision a new unique phone number and enable voice mail, number porting, etc, on it” …  Read more

Adobe Voice debuts on iPad with simple and powerful tools for telling stories through multimedia

Adobe is out today with a new app for iPad that leverages the use of multimedia and speech to create simple and creative animated videos. The app is called Adobe Voice (it may look familiar to you if you recall Ginger) and the creative software company thinks it can make you a better story teller using your iPad. Adobe Voice combines the use of narration, photographs, text, and iconography with a number of templates which include music to create a really neat experience for making crafty videos. Check out my experience (and videos) below. Read more

Google releases ‘Android Wear’ SDK developer preview, watches from LG, Moto & others due next quarter

silver_metal_600_00010Ahead of the release of Apple’s much rumored “iWatch” wearable product, Google has now officially announced Android’s entrance into wearables with project “Android Wear.” The Android Wear SDK allows developers to integrate a number of features into Android powered wearables and relies heavily on Google Now functionality, as we were first to report late last year.

Google also confirmed that it’s working with a handful of partners to bring Android Wear powered wearables to market by later this year: Read more

On its birthday, Siri’s U.S. voice actress revealed, ‘I had no idea I would be on the iPhone’

An Atlanta woman has come forward to CNN as the U.S. voice of Siri, the built-in “personal assistant” first introduced in the iPhone 4S. Susan Bennett says she first discovered that her voice was being used on Apple’s smartphones when a friend emailed her and asked if it was her voice on the iPhone commercial. She headed to the Apple website to discover that she had unknowingly provided the voice for the system with samples she recorded in July of 2005, a full six years before the phone’s launch.

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Nearly two years after launch, Siri seems to exit ‘beta’ with iOS 7

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With the iPhone 4S launch nearly two years ago, Apple introduced the Siri voice control system to its customers. At launch, Siri was a gimmicky feature at best, being released with bugs, a highly-computerized voice, sluggish content loading, and unreliable servers. In addition, Siri of 2011 was short on user compatibility, only launching with knowledge of English, French, and German. Apple certainly did not deny the early issues with Siri: the company launched the product in “beta,” a tag that has remained on the software ever since.

Since 2011, Apple has been slowly improving the service. In early 2012, Siri gained support for Japanese, and with iOS 6 in late 2012, the service added support for several new languages and capabilities. With iOS 7, Siri has been given a redesigned user-interface, new functionality, and all-new voices. Many of the server errors and lengthy processing time issues that riddled the product in its early days have now disappeared; and it seems that Apple agrees. With the upcoming launch of iOS 7, it appears that Apple will finally be taking Siri out of “beta.”

Late this past week, Apple updated its Siri webpages to drop all references to the product being in beta. Prior to this past week, the bottom of the Siri informational page read:

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Apple claims Google Now infringes Siri patents as it adds Galaxy S4 to ongoing Samsung patent suit

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Earlier this month we noted that Apple was asking courts to add the Galaxy S4 as an infringing device in its ongoing patent dispute with Samsung in California. Now, Apple has officially filed a motion (via FossPatents) outlining five patents infringed by the Galaxy S4 and another two Siri related patents infringed by the device’s Google Now voice controlled search feature.

Apple had previously claimed that the Android Google search box feature on Samsung devices infringed the same patents, but is now moving to have Google Now included alongside the S4. Excerpt from Apple’s filing below: Read more

Google begins rolling out revamped conversational Voice Search features in Chrome

During its Google I/O keynote earlier this month, Google announced that it would be bringing conversational, Google-Now like voice search to the desktop. Using a UI similar to voice search and Google Now in its mobile apps, Google would soon allow Chrome users to search and drill down further into results using only their voice.

Today, Google appears to have finally started rolling out the feature for Chrome users on the stable and beta channels of Chrome.

After updating to the latest version 27.0.1453.93 of Chrome, users can navigate to Google.com, click the microphone icon, and choose to allow the new Google Voice search feature to begin listening. Google will only ask for permission to listen once and from then on users can simply speak in order to search. For certain search results such as questions Google will also provide audible results.

Not all of the functionality seems to be available as of yet. For example, when Google first showed off the feature users weren’t required to click at all. Google execs were activating the feature by simply saying “Ok, Google” and were able to continue searching with their voice, hands-free, from on the search results page. The feature as it’s currently implemented now requires users to click the mic icon in order to start a voice search. Read more

Google beats Siri to the Desktop with Google Now-like voice search for Chrome

Google today announced that it is revamping the Google voice search feature available in Chrome on the desktop. While users have always been able to search with their voice through Chrome, Google is attempting to make the service work more like it does through Google Search apps and Google Now on mobile devices.

Chrome will now include “conversational search” with a brand new interface that doesn’t require users to click in order to search with their voice. Like on mobile devices with Google Now, users will now be able to simple say “Google” in order to activate voice search.

Today, we previewed what this conversational experience will look like in Chrome on your desktops and laptops. Soon, you’ll be able to just say, hands-free, “OK Google, will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?” and get a spoken answer. Then, you’ll be able to continue the conversation and just follow up with “how far is it from here?” if you care about the drive or “how about Monterey?” if you want to check weather somewhere else, and get Google to tell you the answer.

The new interface, as pictured above from Google’s demo of the feature, is much like the voice search interface for Google Now on Android devices.

The new feature will be coming to Macs and PCs through Chrome soon.

Google also briefly showed off some new content coming to Google Now including new cards for Reminders, Music Albums, TV Shows, Books, Public Transit, and Video games rolling out today:
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Google announces Google Play game services coming to Android, iOS & web today

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From 9to5Google:

We knew from leaks in the weeks leading up to I/O that Google was planning some gaming related announcements and today the company has officially announced the service in a press release ahead of its Google I/O keynote taking place now. Not only will the service allow Android developers to build in real-time multiplayer, social features, achievements, and leaderboards while storing game saves and settings in the cloud, the SDK for Google Play game services will also be available to iOS and web developers.

Google noted a few titles for Android have already been updated with the feature including World of Goo, Super Stickman Golf 2, Beach Buggy Blitz, Kingdom Rush, Eternity Warriors 2, and Osmos.

Not surprisingly, the cross-platform gaming service will also build in Google+ integration to track high scores, achievements and more:

-Achievements that increase engagement and promote different styles of play.

-Social and public leaderboards that seamlessly use Google+ circles to track high scores across friends and across the world.

-Cloud saves that provide a simple and streamlined storage API to store game saves and settings. Now players never have to replay Level 1 again.

-Real-time multiplayer for easy addition of cooperative or competitive game play on Android devices. Using G+ Circles a game can have up to 4 simultaneous friends or auto-matched players in a game session together with support for additional players coming soon.

Google’s full press release below: Read more

Google Now launches for iOS, available as update to existing Search app

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After a few months of waiting, Google has just released its Google Now service for iOS users. The feature is available via an update to Google’s existing Search app for iOS.

What’s New in Version 3.0.0

Get just the right information at just the right time with Google Now.
• weather and traffic conditions before you start your day
• updates on your favorite sports teams and breaking news stories as they happen
Find out more about all other ways Google Now can help at http://www.google.com/now

Google is also working to bring some voice functionality to its desktop website. While Google Now has a voice component that has been compared to Apple’s Siri on many occasions, the essence of the feature is truly to provide timely, location based information.

The update is available for free for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch via the App Store. Read more

Nuance launches ‘Voice Ads’ platform to bring a Siri-like experience to mobile advertising

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…
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Apple in Shanghai court over Siri speech recognition patent infringement claims

Siri promo video (text message reply 001)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: