Whenever people discuss digital voice assistants, the conversation usually ends with the Google Assistant triumphing over Apple's Siri. I haven't owned an iOS device since I sold my childhood iPod Touch, but earlier this summer, I took the plunge and bought an iPhone 11 to see what I'd been missing — and to check out Siri's smarts for myself. It's much better than I expected, and in fact, there is at least one area where Siri makes the Google Assistant look like an off-key cover band: music. Read More
If you think smart speakers aren't discreet enough, mounting them directly on the wall is a good solution. Some accessories let you do that, but they're not necessarily ideal. Thankfully, Amazon has the solution with its Eco Flex wall-mountable smart speaker, which it announced back in September. The product normally sells for $25, but it's now down to just $17.50 Read More
Back in 2017, researchers in China reported on a clever way to access a digital assistant, like Google Assistant or Siri, by using inaudible ultrasonic sound waves. Now a new team at Washington University in St. Louis have been working on similar technology, and their version is even more capable (and scary) than the original. Read More
Just last month, Sonos sued Google for allegedly infringing upon its patents. The two companies had previously worked together to bring Assistant features to select Sonos speakers. Surprisingly, it seems that this partnership is continuing, at least for now, despite the ongoing litigation. First spotted a few months ago by users on the r/Sonos subreddit, the ability to set Sonos speakers as an Assistant-powered product's default device for music playback now appears to be widely available. Read More
Amazon and Google's plays for user data have pushed the battle of the virtual assistants into the living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms via the smart speaker. Sonos, which makes a number of audio products compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant, feels it has been squeezed by both companies of its intellectual property in the middle of this war. However, The New York Times reports the company has decided to target only Google in two federal lawsuits and has sought sales injunctions for its speakers, smartphones, and laptops. Read More
Echo Dots are undoubtedly convenient, thanks to their compact size and the features they offer. However, they're designed to lie flat on a surface and don't easily fit if you'd rather place them on a wall plug. There are accessories that let you do that, but they're not necessarily ideal. Thankfully, Amazon announced the Echo Flex wall-mountable smart speaker back in September, which is now selling on the retailer's site. Read More
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. Read More