updated 11:35 am EST, Wed November 9, 2011
Amazon snaps up Yap for Kindle voice commands
Amazon may be quietly if unintentionally gunning after Apple's Siri with future Kindles, a newly discovered SEC filing (PDF) has revealed. Using a shell company known as Dion Acquisition Sub to keep the deal out of its usual SEC filings, Amazon has bought Yap, which had a voicemail-to-text service but had also focused heavily on natural-language speech recognition and an emphasis on mobile technology. Although terms of the deal were kept secret, the takeover left little question as to Amazon's involvement, since Dion's headquarters was at 410 Terry Avenue in Seattle, owned solely by Amazon.
The e-book device maker hasn't confirmed the deal.
Amazon has already been invested in voice as an important part of in the past. Every Kindle from the second-generation model onwards has supported text-to-speech, even with publisher pressure forcing it to be optional rather than a standard component. Full voice commands could make future Kindle hardware nearly hands-free. It would give Android tablets like the Kindle Fire a counterpart to iOS' Siri inclusion but could be the most helpful for devices like the $79 Kindle, where a lack of touch could make voice control much faster.
In the past two years, Amazon has been increasingly using acquisitions to boost both its Lab126 group behind most Kindles and the internal group handling the Kindle Fire, signalling that it wants to move beyond basic e-readers using self-developed technology. It bought Touchco in early 2010 for what's now known to be a way of getting a form of multi-touch for the Kindle Fire that couldn't be challenged by Apple or others. Another acquisition, Pushbutton, brought it support for video playback without having to use only Google's code. [via The Atlantic]