May 05, 2016 - 3:58 PM - by dgstorm
In the world of artificially intelligent digital voice assistants, it looks like there will be a new girl/guy in town soon. There's a startup company working on something called Viv that is meant to be an eve better conversationalist than Apple's Siri. What's especially intriguing about this project is that it is being developed by most of the former project leads of the original Siri found on the iPhone.
This requires a bit of background... basically a non-profit named SRI International developed Siri back in 2010 as a third party app for the iPhone. Of course, Apple was impressed and needed a competitor to what Google was working on, so they grabbed up the company and ran with the ball.
SRI's version of Siri was conceived as a true digital personal assistant that uses normal conversational language for voice commands. Although the current iteration of Siri is pretty good about handling important tasks, its conversational speech patterns need to be verbally massaged to get the prefect outcome sometimes. One of Siri's co-creators, Dag Kittlaus, describes the current version of Siri as a chatbot instead of a full-fledged natural speaking voice assistant.
At some point in the past few years, the original concept for Siri was basically lost in the shuffle of the Apple takeover and the way the project evolved. Unhappy with how things turned out, Kittlaus and several of the other original creators of Siri left Apple to pursue their real goal of creating the perfect digital voice assistant. Thus was born, Viv, which will be demonstrated publicly for the first time on Monday, May 9th. They have been working hard to make the normal human conversational understanding of Viv so advanced, that you could order a Pizza and even customize the toppings in the same sentence and have the AI handle that seamlessly for you.
Of course, since then, new competitors have entered the market (like Microsoft's Cortana, and the Amazon Echo), and old rivals have further evolved (like Google Now). Viv still requires a search engine for much of what it does, but the developers are also partnering up directly with various other companies to customize the speech patters of Viv to match various topics, products and services. It will be interesting to see how effective Viv will be and if it can compete with the other AI assistants in the market.
The Washington Post article on Viv is quite long and in-depth, so be sure to check it out for even more info: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...thing-for-you/
Apr 27, 2016 - 9:20 AM - by dgstorm
Here's a story from yesterday that we didn't quite get to at the end of the day. YouTube just announced they are planning to implement their new 6 second un-skippable micro-ads. They are called bumper ads and Project Manager Zach Lupei described them as – “a new six-second video format […] ideal for driving incremental reach and frequency, especially on mobile, where “snackable videos” perform well.”
Luepi also shared, “We like to think of Bumper ads as little haikus of video ads — and we’re excited to see what the creative community will do with them." While we appreciate his passion for his job, we can imagine that being un-skippable might irritate YouTube users. You can check out an example of the Bumper ads above. Let us know what you think of them.
Apr 20, 2016 - 10:42 AM - by dgstorm
The European Union has moved from investigating Google to charging them for supposedly violating anti-trust regulations. This charge is in reference to the way Google has bundled apps with Android, and for the aggressive contracts with Android OEMs which forced them to do so.
Margrethe Vestager, EU's commissioner for competition, specifically explained that Google violated EU anti-trust laws by "requiring manufacturers to pre-install Google Search and Google's Chrome browser and requiring them to set Google Search as the default search service on their devices, as a condition to license certain Google proprietary apps;" and by "preventing manufacturers from selling smart mobile devices running on competing operating systems based on the Android open source code;" and finally by "giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-install Google Search on their devices."
Basically, the EU contends that Google's contracts force Android OEMs to bundle Google's Apps, like Chrome and Google Search by creating a host of requirements in order to use and license these apps. The EU believes this hurts competition by taking away choices from the OEMs to bundle apps from other developers besides Google.
The EU's other main problem is that they believe Google made it nearly impossible for any potential rivals to design a competing search engine, app store, or browser for Android. They claim Google did this by requiring the Play Store installed in order for Chrome or Google Search to be installed.
Of course, Google has a counter-argument which is pretty convincing. Google points out that OEMs are only required to agree to design their device to ensure that Android apps will function properly on any device which uses the Android base OS. Google explains their intent is to make sure the user experience is good if customers choose to use their apps on an Android device.
Google highlighted Amazon as the prime example of this, since they use the base Android OS for their Fire tablets, yet do not feature any Google apps prominently as the primary choice for users of the tablets. Owners of Amazon Fire tablets can side-load Google apps on their device, if they choose to.
Google's final argument pointed out that any OEM who chooses to use Android can choose to load the suite of Google apps to their device at any time, and they are perfectly free to add other apps as well. For example, phones today come loaded with a plethora of of pre-installed apps from various sources, including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and even the mobile carriers themselves. The gist of Google's argument is that they provide the Android OS (and support for it) for FREE, and all they ask in return is that OEMs that choose to use it make sure that Google apps will function properly on the device which uses it.
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