What do you get when you mix South Park's brand of seething humor, Cartman's childish behavior, and a slew of Google Homes and Amazon Echos? An episode full of big hairy balls and smelly tampon boogers being added to shopping lists, Simon says sentences about stinky poops, many more over the top juvenile jokes, all mixed with some social commentary on the loss of jobs due to automated assistants.
If your Friday morning is groggy and you're impatient to get to the weekend, I have one fun little video for you to watch. Ellen DeGeneres recently took on personal assistants in her show with a brief sketch that mostly joshes on their names. These assistants are still quite dumb right now, but look at what happens when they grow personalities of their own, get possessive, and start fighting for your attention:
Google's speech recognition error rate is getting lower and lower - yesterday, the company said it's now under 5% and has dropped from 8.5% this time last year. And I find that to be more and more the case in my own use: Google seems to recognize almost everything I throw at it now, even when I add Lebanese/Arabic names from my contacts list that I wouldn't expect it to get right.
But if you're wondering how Google's speech recognition fares in comparison to other voice assistants, Wired has made a video in conjunction with Andy Wood and Matt Kirshen (from Probably Science) to show you just that.
JBL makes some killer portable speakers and I'm a big fan of its affordable, stylish, and stellar sounding product lineup. This morning, JBL announced that its latest generation of products is getting even a little better. As of today, JBL's current gen speakers will support Google Now voice integration.
The Flip 3, Charge 3, Xtreme, and Pulse 2 are all compatible with the new update (sorry Clip 2 owners, no support for you). To add the feature, all you need to do is download or update the JBL Connect app on your Android device. Once updated, simply long press the play/pause button on your speaker, wait for the ping, and then state your command.
Search engines are been there, done that these days. To really compete, you need your own voice assistant that can do the searching for us, then regurgitate this information using a friendly voice. Business Insider reports that, in a conference call to report Yahoo's first quarter earnings on Tuesday, CEO Marissa Mayer mentioned her company's plans to take on personal assistants such as Google Now, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana. The site claims that the project is currently code-named Index.
On the call, Mayer said:
"Those products are really heavily differentiated both from each other as well as from the historic legacy products, and so that's really where we see an opportunity to play in something that's mobile.
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.
I make no bones of the fact that I find 3rd party voice assistants to be increasingly redundant, especially with the arrival of Google Now on Jelly Bean.
But Google Now doesn't do certain things. One of those things has annoyed me since the early days of Google's Voice Actions: you can't make calendar events through voice input. And as a person that absolute despises digital calendars, this is something of a "must have" feature. Creating a calendar event in an app, to me, is like having a root canal - in that I wish I could be unconscious for the entire experience.
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.
You guys remember Voice Search right? That app that every Android user ever has installed on their phone or tablet? Well, the Wall Street Journal, best known for being right about a good number of things, is reporting that Google has "accelerated plans" to launch a "Siri competitor." Our super secret sources tell us that Google will "launch" this competitor in August, 2010.
The WSJ doesn't have much more information beyond that:
Google, meanwhile, has accelerated plans to launch its own Siri competitor that would work on Android-powered devices, people familiar with the matter have said.
We've known for a very long time that Google dreams of producing a Star Trek computer with voice commands at its core.
Google I/O is coming and it's time to get excited! It's like Christmas in June! It will be here in just a few short agonizing weeks - and we need to prepare. There is background information you need to know, rumors you should have in mind, and past announcements and acquisitions that need to be remembered. Google always leaves little news breadcrumbs for those that pay attention, and I pay attention. Fanatically.
This post will be part news recap, part rumor roundup, and part speculation. The last time I did this went pretty well, and now it's time for another look at what the little elves at Google HQ are working on.