Cyanogen, the company that's grown out of the most popular third-party ROM for Android phones and tablets, is now a partner of Microsoft. CEO Kirt McMaster (who you might remember from some rather colorful statements earlier this year) says that the first fruit of that union will be the integration of Cortana with future versions of the modified Android ROM.
Readers, we have a confession to make. This update to the Amazon shopping app actually came out on June 30th, over two weeks ago. Sorry about that. We spotted it, both on the Play Store and on APK Mirror, but didn't notice anything particularly new about it because Amazon neglected to upload a change log. They've done so today, and the new version (188.8.131.52 on my Nexus 6) actually adds some important new features to the app.
Amazon's voice-controlled, web-connected life manager thing, the Echo, is about as close as you can get to a conceptual product while still asking people to pay for it. But to its credit, Amazon seems to be constantly improving Echo by expanding its functionality. The latest update makes Echo compatible with Google Calendar (one of the web services offered by Google that Amazon doesn't directly compete with) thanks to a selection of voice commands.
You probably know that you can use the "OK Google" command in Google Now (and just recently, anywhere else in Android) to do some cool things like set an alarm or check a flight number. But up to now, it hasn't been able to do much with the actual hardware on your phone. There's no easy way to expand Google Now functionality with third-party apps, but at least one developer found a work-around: meet Commandr, the new in-between service for flipping hardware switches in Google Now.
There are a few noteworthy changes in the latest Google Search update, but we've spotted one more that deserves some exploration. Ever since Google rolled out its new voice interactions as part of Google Now, settings control has been strangely absent. With v3.4 it's kind of there.
Update 6/30/14: Search v3.5 seems to have added Bluetooth support, but it still doesn't do what you really want it to.
In the new Google Search, you can say things like "turn WiFi off," and the device will automatically open the correct settings menu.
Gary Busey has carefully crafted a reputation as a lunatic. True, a good part of that might just be his Hollywood persona, but you've got to admit it's entertaining. Someone at Amazon agrees, because they enlisted Mr. Busey's services for one of the first promotions of the new Android-powered FireTV set-top box. In this one-minute spot, Gary Busey talks to a lamp.
Amazon takes the initiative here, using a crazy shouting man to illustrate the fact that the competing Roku set-top boxes don't have voice control.
Okay, so that camera voice command Google pointed out the other day wasn't terribly useful, but the new music command is pretty cool. Just pull up voice search in whatever way you prefer, and tell your device to "play some music." That's it – the tunes will flow.
The marketing campaign for OnePlus's CyanogenMod-powered One phone has been maddeningly piecemeal, so we've been hesitant to post their tiny updates. But the latest one is notable: according to this forum post, the OnePlus One will feature always-on voice commands, in the same manner as the Moto X and 2013 Motorola DROIDs. The administrator says that it's enabled by a combination of Qualcomm technology and custom software from the CyanogenMod team.
It seems that Google introduced an annoying little bug in the most recent version of Chrome Beta, which just rolled out yesterday. After installing the update and launching Chrome Beta, hotword detection no longer works in the Google Experience Launcher or in Google Now through a different launcher.
Utter! isn't the quiet kid in the back of class who only answers a question when asked, pointing out the answer in a textbook like Google Now, nor is it the class clown who dishes out snarky answers whenever he or she doesn't like the way a teacher asks a question, like Siri. Utter! is the student that sits in the front seat and always raises their hand first, the one that has the answer for every question, no matter how it's phrased or what it's about.