Hires from VoiceSignal, Nuance talent hints at further work on in-house Siri engine
More evidence of earlier speculation that Apple was developing its own Siri engine to replace the licensed one from Nuance emerged on Monday, as a local newspaper reported that Apple is expanding its Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Siri operations with recent hires from Nuance and VoiceSignal Technologies, a company now owned by Nuance. The team would be staying in the same building, but moving to larger quarters on the upper floors -- enough for 65 workers, reports say.
Features Beats Pill speakers, Siri in jokey self-congratulatory message
A brief video has been posted by new Apple employee Dr. Dre on the Beats Twitter account that both celebrates and pokes fun at the union of the two companies. The video, which features animated versions of the Beats Pill speakers and the disembodied voice of Siri, will remind some of the "talking car" Chevron advertisements done by Aardman Animation, makers of Wallace & Gromit in its style of animation and light humor between "Mikey" and "Tina."
Appeal already in works
Beijing's No. 1 Intermediate People's Court has upheld a 2006 Zhizhen patent challenged by Apple, says China's official Xinhua news agency. Zhizhen filed suit against Apple in 2012, accusing it of violating a patent used for its "Little I Robot" voice-controlled assistant with Siri, the voice command system used in iOS. Apple though sued Zihizhen and China's Patent Review Committee late last year, with the hope that the court would render Zhizhen's patent invalid.
Possible Samsung acquisition of Nuance seen as motivation to hasten next-generation engine
A new report claims that Apple has decided to form its own in-house speech recognition team to help create a future version of Siri, the company's popular virtual assistant. Motivation for this may have sprung from reports that Nuance, the company that currently powers the speech-recognition engine, was in talks with Samsung that may result in the Galaxy smartphone maker acquiring Nuance. Apple has been poaching employees of Nuance and recruiting others to build a complete speech team for quite some time, but new evidence has moved the story out of rumor status.
Could have ramifications for Apple's Siri platform
Voice recognition company Nuance is in talks about possibly selling itself to Samsung, says the Wall Street Journal. Discussions reportedly began this year, but other than that it's unknown whether the two sides are making progress or even if/when a takeover might happen. If it does, however, it could potentially have a significant impact on the high-tech world.
Podcasts gets support for Siri, CarPlay, AirDrop
In the wake of OS X 10.9.3 and iTunes 11.2, Apple has also released updated Podcasts and iTunes Connect apps for iOS. Podcasts 2.1 mirrors the latest changes in iTunes, incorporating a new Unplayed tab -- which makes it easier to listen to new content -- and "Feed" tab for browsing episodes ready to download or stream. Favorite episodes can be saved for later listening offline, and played ones can be deleted automatically.
Some iOS 8 features could be pushed into iOS 8.1
Several sources have offered a glimpse into the current status of several Apple projects. At this year's WWDC, for instance, the people say OS X 10.10 will play a more prominent role than iOS 8, as it should feature a major redesign and Apple wants developers to latch in. The company is even said to be allocating iOS interface labor to OS X teams in order to get the framework of v10.10's design done for WWDC.
Set-top could follow in footsteps of Amazon Fire TV
Code contained in iOS 7.1 and 7.1.1 suggests that Apple is planning to bring Siri to the Apple TV. A PLIST file for Assistant -- an internal Apple name for Siri -- includes the Apple TV lineup under its collection of supported devices. Notably, though, no Apple TV to date has included the microphone that would be needed for Siri.
Song-identification technology may be enlisted for Siri, iTunes Radio
Citing unnamed sources "with knowledge of the product," Bloomberg is reporting that Apple may enter into a partnership with song-identifying app Shazam to bring the music-matching feature to iOS 8. Users could, for example, ask Siri "what song is playing?" as they listen to iTunes Radio or other streaming music services, with the voice assistant enlisting Shazam's services to return an answer after a short identifying pause. This in turn would produce a link to the song on iTunes.
Available for all iOS 7-compatible devices
After a lengthy development and testing period, Apple has released the finished version of iOS 7.1 to the public. The code makes a number of improvements to iOS 7, for instance enabling CarPlay support in yet-to-be-launched vehicles. Siri will now let users hold down the Home button to decide how long a device should listen, instead of having to wait for the system to decide no one is talking. More naturalistic voices have been supplied for Japanese, British and Australian English, and Mandarin Chinese.
May solve smartwatch interface problems
Apple is working to expand Siri's third-party app integration with the iWatch in mind, a new report says. Siri already interacts with some third-party apps, like OpenTable or Wolfram Alpha, but in every case so far the companies have had to forge deals with Apple. The new scheme would allow third-party integration without an expressly signed agreement.
Alleges government failed to invalidate Zhizhen voice recognition patent
Apple has filed a lawsuit against China's State Intellectual Property Office, as well as Shanghai company Zhizhen Network Technology, according to news agencies Xinhua and Agence France-Presse. Zhizhen owns a voice recognition patent which Apple previously asked the SIPO to invalidate. The lawsuit is due to reach the Intermediate People's Court on Thursday.
Says 'reasonable consumer' wouldn't expect Siri to work perfectly
A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Claudia Wilken, has dismissed a lawsuit claiming that Apple ads for the iPhone 4S were deceptive about the capabilities of Siri. In her ruling Wilken writes that the plaintiffs' claims depended on "non-actionable puffery," and failed to show evidence of fraud. A "reasonable consumer," she says, would not expect Siri to work perfectly all the time; the plaintiffs charged that Apple gave the impression Siri could handle any request instantly.
Continues minor interface tweaks
(Updated with evasi0n hack break, samples of new voices) Apple is now seeding a fifth beta of iOS 7.1 to developers. Changes appear relatively minor, but release notes mention "new natural-sounding Siri voices" for Japanese, the UK and Australian English dialects, and Mandarin Chinese. Apple also appears to be continuing visual tweaks to the OS, for instance by adding new Shift and Caps Lock buttons (below).
On-processor voice recognition offered by Intel to smartphone manufacturers
Intel's wearable computing efforts will attempt to trump other voice recognition systems from Apple and Google by using offline processing, it has revealed. Rather than taking advantage of the cloud infrastructure, Intel plans to include voice recognition software from a third-party company on the Intel mobile processor itself, in order to quickly understand a verbal request without connecting to the Internet.
Yahoo developing natural language digital assistant
Yahoo is working on its own voice-controlled digital assistant to rival that of Google Now and Apple's Siri, according to a new report. Android Police revealed on Wednesday a video that appears to show a Yahoo-branded personal assistant app running on an Android device. Sources familiar with Yahoo's plans say that the web giant will leverage its massive existing user base and various services to push out a service comparable to Apple and Google's offerings.
Google wins on 'most improved,' Siri gains upper hand on OS commands
An annual shootout between Google's Google Now and Apple's Siri voice-assisted virtual assitants conducted by Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has resulted in a virtual tie, with both services receiving the same overall grade. Siri barely edged out Google Now by virtual of its better integration with OS commands -- an advantage that comes with the program's deep OS integration -- but both programs got the same overall grade (C+) and percentage of questions correct (79 percent).
Display Audio tech requires iPhone 5 or later
The 2014 Civic and the 2015 Fit will each get two forms of iOS integration, Honda has announced. The most significant is Display Audio, which will let users control functions like music, calling, and navigation through gesture controls on a built-in capacitive touchscreen. Connecting will require an iPhone 5, 5s, or 5c, and one or more of four new HondaLink apps: Connect, Navigation, Aha, and Launcher. Aha provides access to Internet audio including radio, podcasts, and audiobooks, plus Twitter and Facebook updates, and listings for nearby points of interest. Launcher is used to find and launch HondaLink-compatible apps. The official Honda apps are all free except for Navigation, which costs $60.
iOS mirroring still limited to 2014 Civic Coupe
Honda has officially launched Siri Eyes Free integration for a handful of vehicles. These include 2013 and 2014 models of the Honda Accord, and 2013 models of the Acura RDX and ILX. Eyes Free lets people trigger Siri through a button on their steering wheel, instead of having to reach for their iPhone to control functions like texting, music playback, or turn-by-turn navigation; it also shuts off the phone's screen to reduce distractions. To get the feature, car owners must pay for a dealer installation.
2014 Honda Civic Coupe to support iOS mirroring
The 2014 Civic Coupe will support iOS mirroring when it becomes available on December 4th, Honda has announced. The car has a 7-inch multi-touch display built into the dash, which people will be able to use to control an iOS device without having to use a mount or reach down. Honda adds that promised Siri Eyes Free updates for its vehicles will also be available in early December.
Investor tries to put rumors to rest
Wealthy investor Carl Icahn says he has no plans to push for Apple to buy out Nuance, according to a new Reuters report. Icahn spoke on the topic Monday, at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit. "That is something I would never micromanage and never even think of telling [Apple CEO] Tim Cook," he said. "It has zero to do with the fact that I'm involved with Apple."
Bluetooth device remotely activates Siri anywhere in the car
While automobile Siri integration is surging, late model cars with only basic smartphone compatibility are left in the lurch. Chargers are often inside a dash, making the phone's microphone inaccessible or other inconveniences. Additionally, many states have outright banned holding and using mobile phones without a hands-free device, making tapping the home button to access Siri illegal. Beanco's Mobile Home device is a simple Bluetooth peripheral for the iPhone which purports to enable Siri's use with any car's hands-free system. Does the device really enhance the Siri experience for older hands-free systems? Read our review and find out.
Feature integrated into Chevy MyLink
Siri's "Eyes Free" mode will be supported in several 2014 Chevrolet cars, GM has announced. These include the Camaro, Volt, Malibu, SS, Cruze, and Equinox. The technology will be integrated via Chevy's MyLink service. Earlier in 2013, the company's Spark and Sonic models were among the first vehicles to get Eyes Free support.
Apple using voice samples recorded in 2005
The original US voice for Apple's Siri has been identified as an Atlanta woman, Susan Bennett, according to CNN. Bennett says that she only discovered her voice was being used by Apple when a friend emailed her and asked if it was her voice in an iPhone commercial; not owning the latest iPhone at the time, she had to visit the Apple website to confirm the fact. She explains that the samples used were actually recorded in July 2005, over six years before Apple would announce its first incarnation of Siri, for the iPhone 4S. A different version of Siri existed earlier as an independent app, before Apple bought out its developer.
May hint at plans for Siri
The developers of Cue -- a personal assistant app -- have shut down the app's service, according to an official announcement. In a manner similar to Google Now, the app was able to scan a person's email, contacts, and files and pull out important details for a daily agenda. Cue is promising refunds for Premium subscribers, and says it has already deleted any personal data stored on its servers.
Patch fails to resolve lockscreen vulnerabilities
A newly-documented technique lets people bypass the lockscreen in iOS 7.0.2 and dial any phone number, not just emergency numbers. The method involves waiting for a notification, or forcing one by sending a text message or ejecting the SIM card. Once the notification pops up, a hacker has to swipe right on it while simultaneously swiping up on the Camera icon. While keeping a finger on the Camera icon, a person must then slide to unlock and tap the Emergency Call button. After dialing, hitting the Call button quickly two or three times should crash Springboard, but allow the call to go through once Springboard restarts.
Apple considers iOS 7 updates significant enough
iOS' native voice command system, Siri, no longer has a "beta" tag, a look at related pages on Apple's website reveals. All references to beta status appear to have been dropped both graphically and in text. Until now, Siri has carried the beta label since its arrival on iOS in October 2011.
Geolocation used to improve service
Apple is currently seeking patent protection for technology that is designed to improve speech recognition through location awareness. A Thursday filing titled "Automatic input signal recognition using location based language modeling." describes a system that automatically associates voice input with location-specific language models and geographic information such as nearby businesses and street names.
Apple downplays upcoming competition
Apple has updated Siri with a number of jabs at Google Glass, users note. Most commands for the Glass headset are issued through voice, and prefaced by saying "Okay Glass." Using that phrase in Siri, though, will now trigger one of several jokes about the device.
iPad support may have to wait for iOS 7.0.1
Although Apple is almost finished with the iPhone and iPod version of iOS 7, the iPad release is running behind schedule, sources claim. iPad support only arrived two weeks after the first beta, and developers continue to complain that it's more unreliable than when the firmware is running on an iPhone. "Chatter inside Apple" allegedly points to the possibility of holding back iPad support from the public until a v7.0.1 update sometime in late September or October, possibly in tandem with new iPad models.
Could hint that Apple wants to replace Nuance tech
An Apple office near the MIT campus in Boston is focusing on speech technology for Siri, word from industry sources suggests. The sources tell Xconomy that Apple has assembled a small group of significant people in involved in speech technology, and is working to expand that effort in the Boston area. Online job profiles for the speech team are said to point to the Siri connection.
Tech in new, beta iOS releases
Apple has changed the way Siri responds to suicide references, users have discovered. Until this week, the system would simply display the locations of nearby mental health facilities. In the US Siri will now ask people if they want to talk to someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. On an iPhone, Siri can also ask to dial directly.
French, German voices too; more languages coming later
As expected, Siri will be given an upgrade in the forthcoming version set for iOS -- incorporating new services including Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing among other new sources. The interface will be reshaped to fit into the iOS 7 design aesthetic, with a "waveform" look that fades into view on a layer over the current content on the screen. The program will also now feature a new choice of voices -- a new female voice, or a male one if preferred -- with new voices for French and German users as well (and more languages in the works).
Tech enabled through ConnectedDrive service
All 2014-model BMW cars will support the Siri "Eyes Free" technology included in iOS, the luxury automaker has announced. The technology is being delivered through an update to BMW's iDrive platform. By pressing and/or holding a voice command button on the steering wheel, people will be able to trigger Siri without reaching for their iPhone. The same button will also be able to trigger S Voice on Samsung phones.
Confirms long-standing reports
Speaking earlier today at the ongoing D11 conference, Nuance CEO Paul Ricci confirmed that his company's technology is integral to Apple's Siri voice command system. "We are the fundamental provider of voice recognition for Apple," Ricci said in response to a question of whether Nuance was to blame for misheard Siri commands. The Nuance tech only handles voice recognition however, not any artificial intelligence demands.
Uses Siri-like voice for narration
Microsoft is airing a new TV ad for Windows 8 tablets targeting their main competition, the Apple iPad. The spot points out that the iPad is missing equivalents to Windows 8 features like Live Tiles and true multitasking, and that at $449, a 64GB ASUS VivoTab Smart tablet is far cheaper than a comparable 64GB iPad, which is $699. Narrating everything is a Siri-like voice trying to defend Apple.
Apple discourages complicated requests
Apple has run a server-side update to Siri, changing how the service responds to long commands, notes iLounge. If Siri judges that a request is too long, it will now reply with a quote from either William Strunk or Thomas Jefferson, in either case praising brevity of language. It's not clear exactly when the update was made, but it appears to have happened during the last week and a half.
Special version of Maps may appear on dashboard displays
With iOS 7, Apple wants to deepen in-car integration options for iOS devices, sources claim. Currently such integration is limited mostly to things like iPod input or Siri Eyes Free, which makes it possible to issue Siri commands with a quick-access button. Sources tell 9to5Mac, however, that Apple is working with car companies on new center consoles that could dock an iPhone and output an optimized, car-oriented version of Maps to a dashboard display.
Apple claims data anonymized, used to improve technology
All the requests people have made through Siri are being stored on Apple servers for a period of up to two years, says Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller. The statement comes in response to Wired inquiries about ambiguity in Siri's privacy policies, initially pointed out by American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Nicole Ozer. Muller insists that Apple is anonymizing the request data, and only collecting voice clips in order to improve Siri.
Voice assistant app for Android or iOS
Amazon has reportedly acquired voice-assistant app developer Evi Technologies, unnamed sources have told TechCrunch. The deal, which is said to be worth $26 million, is said to be focused on Evi's mobile apps for Android and iOS, which provide functionality similar to that of Apple's own Siri technology, though both parties have yet to make an official announcement.
Info, photo match earlier leak
An iPhone 5S expected this year will use a quad-core 1.2GHz A7 processor paired with PowerVR's quad-core SGX554MP4 graphics, and 2GB of LPDDR-800 RAM, says a DroidGator source allegedly working for Apple. The person has also supplied a photo of the device's motherboard, and claims that improving Siri will be a major focus of iOS 7. Every iPhone upgrade has been accompanied by a major iOS release.
May involved expanding Siri partnership, more mobile features
Apple and Yahoo are discussing ways to bring more of Yahoo's best features to Apple's iOS platform, the Wall Street Journal reports. While the two companies are already working together on various projects -- the default Stock and Weather apps on iOS devices are powered by Yahoo, its search engine is an option in Safari, and its sports stats are incorporated into Siri -- the idea may be to continue Apple's move away from Google services wherever possible. This may include expanded service offerings and more cooperation.
Firm claims Xiao voice recognition tech predates Siri
Lawyers for Apple appeared in a Shanghai court earlier today at the start of a lawsuit over the company's Siri voice command system, according to Agence France-Presse. Zhizhen Network Technology alleges that Siri violates a patent on voice recognition, used in the company's Xiao i Robot software, that dates back to 2004. Siri is said to have been first developed in 2007. After buying out Siri's creator, Apple folded the technology into iOS in October 2011.
New Sonic allows voice-activated calls, songs, texts, calendars
Chevrolet, the first automaker to bring Apple's Siri Eyes-Free feature to market, has debuted a new TV commercial that showcases the feature as an integral selling point for the forthcoming 2014 Chevy Sonic. The Sonic, the second production model with the feature behind the Spark, has an integrated steering-wheel button that activates Siri to allow voice control of several functions of iOS devices without ever activating the screen or relying on visual feedback. Nine other automakers will also be bringing out models that feature Siri Eyes-Free.
Judge had questioned whether it would proceed during appeal process
Judge Lucy Koh, who has been overseeing the primary US court battles between Apple and Samsung, ruled Friday to allow a second lawsuit against the Korean electronics giant to proceed -- despite expressing reservations on the idea while the appeal of the first Apple-Samsung trial is still being heard. Koh was apparently persuaded by filings from Apple's lawyers that the second case should go forward because of "ongoing" infringement and harm to Apple. The new case involves patents related to Apple's Siri voice assistant.
Allows music, calling, texting control
As promised, Chevrolet's 2013 Sonic and Spark cars have been updated to support Siri Eyes Free. The bridge is handled through MyLink, a touchscreen interface built into the vehicles. To use the function a person has to connect a cellular-equipped iOS device via Bluetooth; commands are issued by pressing a voice activation button on the steering wheel.
Apple could be well into smartwatch development
Lending further weight to Apple’s rumored plans for an ‘iWatch’, the company is said to have assigned up to 100 people to the project. An earlier rumors suggested that Apple might be experimenting with smartwatch-like device running the company’s iOS mobile operating system and using a new type of curved glass. The fresh rumor reported by Bloomberg would have Apple much closer to a potential product launch than previously thought.
Siri for iOS also slated to get more features
A new opening for a UI engineer at Apple indicates that the company has major plans for Siri, says AppleInsider. The person will be expected to work on the presentation of results in Siri's conversation view, integrating new apps and services into the voice command system. Apple describes Siri as "an entire miniature OS within the OS."
May integrate with HondaLink and AcuraLink
Honda has announced a slate of 2013 cars that will support Apple's Eyes Free feature for Siri. The technology will come as a dealer-installed option for the new Honda Accord, as well as for the Acura RDX and ILX. On the Accord it may be integrated with the company's new HondaLink console, whereas the Acuras will likely rely on AcuraLink. No prices have been revealed so far.
Update expands LTE support, tweaks Siri, iTunes Match
(Updated with security, Apple TV info) Apple has officially released iOS 6.1 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The update is available through iTunes or as an over-the-air download, and makes several important tweaks. For instance, it enables LTE on the extended number of carriers Apple announced last week; an official list has been posted on the company's website.