Get Alexa On Your Apple Watch With This App

This third party app brings Alexa and Siri together on your Apple Watch.

Image Credit: Gear Patrol

Siri might be the most widely used digital assistant, but Alexa isn’t far behind. Amazon’s smart digital assistant has been gaining a lot of traction over the last year thanks to its smart speakers.

Apple Watch users rely on Siri to do their hands-free tasks for them. And Apple’s wearable tech can’t officially run any other assistant. But now, an app allows you to use Amazon’s Alexa assistant on your Apple Watch.

Voice in a Can is a third-party app that lets you talk to Alexa from your wrist. It’s a standalone Apple Watch app, so you don’t need to tether to an iPhone to use it. As long as you have Wi-Fi or LTE (for Apple Series 3 LTE-enabled watches), you’re good to go.

So how does it work?

Voice in a Can uses a watch complication so that you can launch it from the watchface. All you have to do is sync your main Amazon Alexa account. To talk to Alexa, just tap on the icon in the app.

The Verge warns that you can expect Alexa to be slow to respond. It also suggests increasing the timeout setting for apps on the Apple Watch because the Alexa service disconnects every time the display goes blank.

Since Voice in a Can is a third-party app, you won’t be able to enjoy certain features. This includes making calls, playing music, or Echo announcements. 

However, the app fully fully supports the smart home features of Alexa.

The app costs $1.99 and is downloadable from the Apple Store here.

Apple Debuts iOS 11.4 With AirPlay 2 Audio Support For HomePod

Tech giant Apple has rolled out iOS 11.4, and it brings a lot of changes to Apple HomePods: AirPlay 2 with multi-room audio. The company’s iOS 11.4 update now allows both HomePod and Apple TV devices to play audio in your home or selected areas of your home. The latest iOS update is also applicable for forthcoming third-party AirPlay 2 devices as well.


OS 11.4 With AirPlay 2 Audio Support For HomePod


This means all the AirPlay 2 devices could now be controlled if you will be using the iOS device, HomePod, Apple TV, or by simply asking Apple’s smart assistant Siri. You can activate Siri by saying a command, say you want to hear music in a room. Then Siri will automatically play a particular music via AirPlay 2-compatible speakers.

Also, several manufacturers have also pledged to support AirPlay 2. This includes Bang & Olufsen, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Marshall, Pioneer, and Sonos, among others. Furthermore, AirPlay 2 devices would now show up in the Apple Home app. This is possible because AirPlay 2 now integrates with HomeKit.



Also, the iOS 11.4 has brought some update for Messages in iCloud to the operating system. It can be recalled that this feature has been a work in progress since Apple has introduced iOS 11 last year. With the recent update, Messages in iCloud serves as a storage house where all iMessages in Apple’s cloud are kept.



Before, an Apple user needs to sign in using a user’s iCloud account to receive iMessages. Those Apple users who saved all of their iMessage conversations are complaining of the storage space taken up by iMessage. This is because all the information is being stored to individual devices.


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Microsoft Buys AI startup Semantic Machines

Software giant Microsoft has announced today that it acquired Semantic Machines. The acquisition of the AI start-up company was meant to bolster the company’s AI offerings. This includes the AI products like Cortana, the Azure Bot Service, and Microsoft Cognitive Services, among others.


Microsoft buys Semantic Machines


According to Microsoft, Semantic Machines has extensive experience in working speech synthesis, deep learning, and natural language processing. The company actually  works creatively in producing creative AI.

Credit: AFP/Getty Images/File/Stephen Brashear


They claim that their products aid machines “to communicate, collaborate, understand our goals, and accomplish tasks.” Now with Microsoft acquired Semantic Machines, you can expect that the company would help Microsoft compete with conversational computing initiatives.



This as Microsoft is competing for other computing initiatives from other big tech companies like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Samsung’s Bixby, among others. Also, the AI start-up company has also assembled a group of experts in the conversational AI arena.



This cadre of experts includes Larry Gillick, the former chief scientist for Siri at Apple and researchers UC Berkeley professor Dan Klein as well as Stanford University professor Percy Liang.



“With the acquisition of Semantic Machines, we will establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to push forward the boundaries of what is possible in language interfaces,” Microsoft AI and research CTO David Ku said in a blog post.


In case you don’t know, Semantic Machines was founded in August 2014. In the same year, investors poured in $8.5 million of funds to the company. It also received another $12.3 million in December 2015.

Apple HomePod: Siri Correctly Answered 52.3% of Queries in New AI Test

Apple’s HomePod has answered 52.3 percent correctly out of the 782 questions asked in a test conducted by Loup Ventures, a report said on Monday.

Loup Ventures performed a test to Apple’s HomePod. These tests were conducted in various categories which include ease of use, sound quality and Siri, among others.


Siri answered 52.3 percent of questions in new AI test


Regarding Siri, Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster said that Siri had understood 99.4 percent of queries asked of it. The company tested at least three HomePods, and it reported that a total of 782 questions were asked to Apple’s HomePods.


According to Munster, Apple’s HomePod has performed well so far compared to its rival speakers. He described Apple’s smart speaker as “at the bottom of the totem pole” in the AI assistant performance category.


While Apple’s HomePod is closely reaching success, other rival smart speakers like
Google Home has reportedly answered 81 percent correctly. And Amazon’s Alexa has answered only 64 percent correctly, while Microsoft’s Cortana has answered 57 percent correctly.


Munster added that Apple’s Siri performed best when answering both local and commerce type of questions like asking direction of a local coffee shops or buying a shirt. In this aspect, Siri, he said, beats its rival smart speakers like Alexa and Cortana. However, it falls behind Google Assistant on Google Home.


“This means added support for these domains would bring HomePod performance above that of Alexa (64%) and Cortana (57%), though still shy of Google Home (81%). We know Siri can correctly answer a whole range of queries that HomePod cannot evidence by our note here. Apple’s limiting of HomePod’s domains should change over time, at which point we expect the speaker to be vastly more useful and integrated with your other Apple devices,” the researcher further noted.

Siri Is Used On More Than 500M devices, up from 375M in June

The Cupertino-based tech company Apple has finally unveiled its HomePod in a statement on Tuesday. The Siri-powered smart speaker is now actively used by over half billion devices across the globe.


By the numbers: How many Siri-powered devices across the globe?


Apple said the figure climbed up from more than 375 million back in June last year. The company revealed these details during the Worldwide Developers Conference last year. This means that Siri made its way to 125 million devices for a period of seven months.


In a Homepod press statement released on Tuesday, Apple said, “Siri, now actively used on over half a billion devices, has developed a deep knowledge of music and understood your preferences and tastes.”

So how these figures are relevant? The company was able to sell 87.7 iPhones, 21.7 million iPads including 9.7 million Macs. This would total to some 119.1 million Apple’s voice assistant-powered devices.


However, Apple has yet to release the Apple Watch metrics, a device that was powered by Apple’s voice assistant. Tech experts further claimed that the sales were pegged between 10 million and 15 million units for 2017.


And they added that Apple’s income was not yet revealed for the first quarter of 2018. But they hinted that during the said fiscal period, there would be tens of millions of Siri-powered devices added to the final tally.


With HomePod, the company has expressed hopes that bring Siri into your home would be able to automate and execute tasks. These tasks include, among others, sending messages, setting timers, playing media and controlling HomeKit accessories.


Apple fans can start pre-ordering the HomePod on February 9.

Apple Seeds Third Beta of iOS 11.2.5 To Apple Developers

Cupertino-based Apple Inc. has reportedly seeded the third beta for its upcoming iOS 11.2.5 update. This means that developers will get the first-hand experience of the update.


The third update came just two weeks after Apple seeded the second beta and three weeks after it released the iOS 11.2. The tech giant said that iOS 11.2 fixes the HomeKit vulnerability and other bugs experienced by Apple iPhone users.


Apple iOS 11.2.5 beta update: What we know so far

With the third beta update, registered developers can now download the iOS 11.2.5 beta through over-the-air if a proper configuration profile was installed from Apple’s Development Center. Or the registered developer can access the update from Apple’s Development Center.


In case you don’t know, the Apple’s beta 2 for iOS 11.2.5 features a Siri’s capability to play daily news podcasts. Apple’s Siri offers news that is shared by The Washington Post. However, Apple users can also select other news sources such as NPR, CNN, and Fox News.


According to Apple, the beta 2’s audio feature can be accessed when an Apple user is using Siri by saying, Hey Siri. Siri can only be invoked when a user is using CarPlay or when a headphone is connected.


Also, Siri can be activated by pressing the side button or Home button of any iPhone. These are the features that we know so far. Apple has yet to disclose other features included in the iOS 11.2.5 beta.


What is certain though is that update will also fix other bugs found in the present iOS platform. Apple users are also expecting security improvements aside from enhancing Siri’s functions.

Siri Versus Cortana: The Ultimate AI Battle

There’s a new personal assistant in town by the name of Cortana. This friendly AI bot lives in your Windows Phone and helps manage your everyday life. Some of you may know Cortana from the Halo video game series, but the Cortana on your Windows phone, like the Nokia Lumia 521 or the Nokia Lumia 635, won’t be relaying tactical information to you. Instead, she’ll schedule appointments, set up reminders and even recommend restaurants in your area.

So you’re probably wondering what happened to Siri and who is better? The answer depends on what kind of personal assistant you prefer.

Siri: The First of Her Kind

Apple fans have grown to love Siri. They find her professional tone endearing and her response to life’s toughest questions simple yet brilliant. Furthermore, Siri is different from traditional voice-recognition software because she understands natural speech, according to Apple. The more you use Siri, the better she comprehends your accent and other voice quirks.

Before Cortana it was difficult to compare Siri to other AI programs because she really was the first of her kind. Now that Siri has a rival, it’s easier to see the AI’s shortcomings. Let’s face it, Siri is much better when it comes to career-oriented tasks such as reminding you of an upcoming office meeting or sending an email to a coworker.

To put it simply, Siri thrives on helping you get that next promotion or raise. When asked, “Who are you?” Siri responds with a no-nonsense answer of “I’m Siri. But enough about me . . . how can I help you?” She’s just not interested in having a conversation. If you want a personal assistant that understands punctuation when composing a message by voice or something that can send an email or start a call, then Siri is your best bet.

Cortana: The New Girl on the Block

Cortana, on the other hand, is best for users that want a personal assistant for their everyday lives. A comical Microsoft commercial illustrates what Cortana can do what Siri can’t. For instance, Cortana can remind you to call a friend when you get home or help you recall what you need from the grocery store. In addition, a TechRadar comparison shows how sluggish Siri is compared to Cortana. This AI also is more likely to strike up a conversation, says Engadget, which adds the human quality that Siri lacks.

Unlike Siri, Cortana won’t be part of the operating system. Instead, she will be a downloadable app on the Windows Phone 8.1, says ZDNet. Microsoft has been working on Cortana since 2011 and hopes that she will be the beginning of responsive PCs. Imagine a world where you can prompt your computer via voice command to print a report or fax a document. According to ZDNet, Microsoft is definitely working towards this revolutionary technology.

If you’re still having trouble deciding between Siri and Cortana, consider Gizmodo’s description of the new AI: “Cortana is powered by Bing and is a mix of Google Now’s prediction powers injected with some Siri-like personality, and she has a lovely voice.” If you’re a sucker for soft-spoken female voices and want a witty digital personal assistant that can help you juggle your social life, then Cortana is the AI for you.

Robin: Android has a mobile assistant

Good news for Android users all over the world.

Software developer Magnifis released a voice activated mobile assistant for Android, called Robin.

Robin seems like a hybrid of Siri and Waze. Robin is a voice-controlled mobile app that was developed for drivers to use in their cars.

Just like Waze, it’s motion-activated that makes it easier for following distracted driving laws. Robin can also warn you about traffic and speed traps.

But don’t have high hopes yet, as this isn’t a Siri killer. Robin doesn’t have the ability to send text messages and play music. Robin is currently a driving companion. It can find parking and gas station prices.

What makes Robin good, is its ability to learn the drivers schedule or habits. Basing on those patterns, Robin provides relevant navigation and driving information.

Magnifis unveiled Robin last March. It is currently available for free at the Google Play store. Robin is still at the beta phase so expect a lot of glitches at first.

Some reviewers say that Robin doesn’t work on all Android smartphones. HTC MyTouch 4G, HTC Evo 4G LTE users can find it difficult for Robin to run on their mobile phones.

A free downloadable driving assistant is one hell of an upgrade for Android.

Hey Android user, care to try out Robin?

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Apple to announce new updates at the WWDC

Apple has used the Worldwide Developers Conference as their springboard to reveal their new iPhone software the past few years.

This year’s edition of the annual event doesn’t look different, as Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is expected to reveal their latest iPhone software. Not only that, but analysts also believe that the CEO will also announce updates of the Mac computers and publicize future releases.

A year ago, Apple showed off the iPhone 4 during the WWDC. But people are not keen on the fact that Apple will show a model of their “rumored” iPhone 5.

As for the company’s latest software, the iOS 6, features are still unknown. As to the date of its availability to consumers, Apple hasn’t revealed any date as of the moment.

Last year, Apple launched the iOS with the addition of iPhone’s virtual assistant “Siri”. This year, analysts say that they are not expecting a dramatic update, though they said that they are expecting “modest” improvements for Apple’s current version.

Some say that tighter integration of Facebook and Twitter are two of the most expected updates.

Will the new iOS 6 be a preview of Apple’s latest iPhone model? We will soon find out.


Siri, are you spying on me?

IBM, a well-known technological firm as reported recently their action towards banning Siri for use in their business network. Reports and statements show what many of us may have neglected to notice: using Siri sends what we say to Apple’s Cloud servers and records it for future use.

This may not be a problem for a few questions about the weather or a few recipe searches, but it certainly becomes a worry in the corporate world, where Siri can be used to make emails and text messages pertaining to company secrets or advances. IBM’s fear of corporate espionage has been the greatest bane in their recent “bring your own device” campaign. As such, every ‘new’ device that the employee brings in for work is encrypted and set up so that it can be remotely wiped if necessary. They also block access to Cloud services such as Siri and Dropbox.

This recent incident has made many people more aware of a certain issue. Are the Cloud services, like Siri, spying on you? In the most paranoid way possible, the answer is definitely yes. Although, this would not be the first time this has been done. Contrary to people’s beliefs, many of our electronic devices, mainly computing devices that connect to the net, all have some sort of data gathering clause in their license agreement. Consumer data has always been a very vital source of inspiration for product development of many companies. They have long since saved data on the “Cloud” and viewed them to further understand if their services are helping people, and if there are any clues to what more they can do to recapture the same audience in a different product.

Recent technology has further improved on that though. Now it is no longer simply about a crash log, or a satisfaction form, or system usage logs that are sent to our precious suppliers. Their cloud services now include adding your indirect thoughts in their list of data sources. We send them our questions, our interests, our messages, our emails, our files. Whatever we use the cloud services for, it gets stored in some way. So again, the answer to the question “Siri, are you spying on me?” is a definite yes, as Siri is a cloud service, and like any of cloud services, the data is most certainly stored in a server somewhere.

What do we do? Stop using these services? The answer lies within each and every user. If you are comfortable with the data you share, or merely feel like the convenience posted by these services are well worth the data they get, then go right ahead. For those that say no, remember that these have been happening for a while now, one way or another. There may not be a way out of this anymore without going back to the caves.

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