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:

Dolphin Browser iPhone app updated with ‘Sonar’ voice control functionality

Popular third-party Android browser Dolphin made its way to the App Store in August of last year bringing highly customizable gestures, built-in translations, and a dock-style sidebar for quick access to tabs, bookmarks, and speed dial. Today, developers MoboTap Inc. pushed out an update to the iPhone app that, among other new features, introduced voice search functionality called “Dolphin Sonar.”

Dolphin Sonar is super easy to use and can do almost anything. Instead of typing, tap the microphone at the bottom left or just shake your phone (because who doesn’t want an excuse to do that!). Then say what you want to say and Dolphin will do the rest… use your voice to search the Web, find exactly what you’re looking for on sites like Facebook or eBay, bookmark your favorite website, and (like a real Dolphin!) use Sonar to navigate. Ask Dolphin to search on Facebook or create a new tab…all without having to type a single letter.

Other additions to the update include the return of the URL keyboard “by popular demand,” new search engine options to switch between four default settings, three font size options for browsing, and the ability to dim the screen with a single tap using “Night Mode.” Like the default Safari browser, Dolphin will also now save images directly to your iPhone’s photo album. You will also get the usual stability and performance enhancements when you grab version 4.0 of the Dolphin browser on the App Store (iTunes link).
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