One of the more exciting revelations at the opening keynote of Google I/O 2016 is "Assistant," Google's upcoming expansion of its search tools. Explaining exactly what Assistant is and isn't is a bit tricky, because it both integrates a lot of existing Google technology and spills over into other upcoming services, like Google Home and Allo. Essentially, it's a new way to interact with Google Search, with the intention being that you "speak" with it in a more human fashion.
Google isn't the only word that can follow OK. SoundHound has developed a voice assistant of its own, and while the project is still in invite-only beta, the newly available app is clearly going after Google Now. From the moment you utter the words OK Hound, you know you're in for something similar, but different.
SoundHound thinks Hound is special due to its ability to better understand speech. The assistant responds to naturally phrased questions and can handle detailed inquiries. The example in the provided screenshots shows Hound responding to: "Show me hotels in miami with availability monday staying three nights between one hundred fifty to two hundred fifty dollars that have a pool and are pet friendly."
The provided results, if accurate, are more informative than the general search Google dishes out.
We've already taken a brief look at Google's upcoming Photos app and discussed how it will be able to employ link sharing, but there are still other details worth looking at a little closer. One of those is "Assistant," a new screen in the Photos app that seems to replace "Autoawesome" from the app's current iteration. This screen is where users will find automatically-generated stories, animations, movies, and collages, but - happily - users will no longer have to wait and hope for those autoawesome goodies.
In the current Photos app, users can create movies, animations, and mixes (collages), but not stories or albums, two new options added in the upcoming app.
It's hard not to be excited about the future of Google Now. It's already an incredibly powerful tool, on its way to being a do-anything personal assistant, and we've heard tell of even more functionality from bill pay reminders to inferred events entries to contact-based reminders.
Today, though, we've heard about something that many have asked for from Google Now for a long time now - actual timer functionality. Search may not be getting its own built-in timer, but it won't be side-stepping your request to set an alarm, either.
Disclaimer: No matter the confidence level, there's always a chance product updates, features, and some or all details will be changed or cancelled altogether.
Earlier today, we published a first look at what we believed to be a Yahoo!-made competitor to voice assistants like Google Now and Siri. The video, sent to us by an anonymous tipster along with screenshots showed what looked to be a very impressive app with an implementation similar to Facebook's Chat Heads, whereby a Y! icon would constantly float on the home screen waiting to be activated.
This evening, TechCrunch learned through a source "familiar with Yahoo's internal projects" that the app wasn't real, implying the video was nothing more than a really nice concept demo.
The most recent news is that the app is actually real, but it isn't made by Yahoo.
Update 2: According to TechCrunch, and Co-Founder/CEO of natural language processing startup Robin Labs, the app is a real, functional product built on the startup's "white-label" voice assistant platform. While it was not commissioned by Yahoo!, it was created during ongoing discussions with the company. Read the full story here.
Update: According to TechCrunch, who has a source "familiar with Yahoo's internal projects," the video doesn't depict a real Yahoo! product, in progress or otherwise. At this point we can't verify absolutely whether the product is real, fake, imagined, or in progress, but even the Android Police can be tricked now and then.
For years Nuance's Dragon served as a leader in the world of voice dictation and commands. More recently, though, as Google and Apple move in on the speech control world, the company has a more pressing need than ever to distinguish itself. Enter Dragon Mobile Assistant. This app aims to "expands the natural language understanding and artificial intelligence" of Dragon Go! and "[add] the most popular personal assistant features."
At this point, most of our readers are probably aware of how voice assistants work. This one isn't much different from the usual fare. You can speak commands to set up appointments, make calls, send texts, and perform searches.
Another day, another Kickstarter project. This one actually looks like it could have potential, though. Ubi is an Android-powered speaker system that connects to your local WiFi network. The small black box plugs into a power outlet and is controlled primarily via voice. It comes equipped with colored LEDs for notifications, and an array of sensors including temperature, humidity, air pressure, and ambient light. To round out the specs, the box packs a full-size USB port and a 3.5mm audio jack. Couple all that with an open development platform and the potential is nigh on limitless.
The device appears to be built largely around Google's voice actions and search.
The uninformed consumer (read: not you, dear readers) may be forgiven for not realizing Google's voice search/voice assistant/Google Now thing is attempting to compete head-on with Siri, what with lacking a name and not being nearly as anthropomorphized. However, Google's voice powers are, indeed, aimed squarely at making the act of finding and using information far easier than Apple's automaton. In this video, the two go voice-to-voice and...okay, let's not beat around the bush. Siri gets thoroughly trashed.
Now, let's be perfectly clear. When dealing with voice searches and natural language assistants, your mileage will always vary. However, in this head-to-head comparison, it is no contest.