Shanghai-based software company Zhizhen Network Technology, which sued Apple four years ago over a voice recognition patent for the iPhone Siri "personal assistant", plans to expand into the US in 2017 with ambitions of becoming a global leader in artificial intelligence. It will set up offices in Hong Kong and Silicon Valley to develop software to cater to local clients, a fresh sign that Chinese technology firms are speeding up their "go-global" drive to take on big-names such as Microsoft and Amazon for world markets. "Taking a global view, it's time to set sail for the largely untapped territory of artificial intelligence," said Yuan Hui, founder and chairman of Zhizhen. "Internationalisation is a necessary step we will take to develop our businesses." In a report on the top 10 technology trends for 2017, IT research firm Gartner listed Zhizhen's Xiaoi Robot, Siri, Cortana of Microsoft and Echo of Amazon as world leaders in intelligent conversational systems.
Mobvoi, the Chinese artificial intelligence startup backed by Google and Volkswagen, launched a chatbot on Tuesday that can connect with voice-activated smart home devices, as the company ramps up its efforts to turn from a niche player to being the future Amazon Alexa or Google Home in China. The Beijing-based startup founded in 2012 by a group of former Google engineers sees smart homes as one of the top priorities to leverage its voice recognition and natural language processing technology after receiving a US$180 million investment from German auto maker Volkswagen earlier this month. Smart homes are seen by technology giants around the world as one of the key directions for the application of artificial intelligence in people's everyday life. In the United States, Alexa, the robotic voice assistant behind Amazon's Echo has already allowed people to dim bedroom lights and play song lists through speech. In China, online search giant Baidu recently acquired a Chinese start-up that developed an artificial intelligence-based voice assistant to push further into smart home devices.
In 2017, your new fridge might be able to tell you corny jokes and serenade you, but still lack a witty answer to "Are you Skynet?" Microsoft announced during the WinHEC coference in Shenzhen, China that Cortana would arrive on Windows IoT Core as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update. The IoT version of Windows is designed for smart devices such as robots, maker projects, thermostats, toasters, doorbells, and picture frames. Windows IoT Core can sometimes lag a little behind Windows 10 PC releases so it's not clear when the IoT version will roll out. During the Windows 10 November Update in 2015, the IoT build lagged by about a month, though the earlier Anniversary Update arrived around the same time on both PCs and IoT devices. The impact on you at home: If I was in a betting mood I'd expect to see the new Windows IoT Core inspire multiple Cortana-powered smart speakers from third parties.
Apple is set to hold its biggest software event of the year, WWDC, in the middle of June. It'll use the San Francisco event to show off all of the software that's on its way to your Watch, phone and other computers – as well as potentially new Apple devices. The event comes at a big time for Apple. The company is fresh off the back of its first quarter of decline since the iPhone came out, and is feeling the heat from other companies like Google. It will intend to use WWDC as a way of showcasing the software and potentially other products that it hopes will prove its doubters wrong and get the company to grow again.
In its latest Windows 10 Insider Preview Build, Microsoft has given you the power to shut down or restart your PC by your voice alone--a convenience that also may allow pranksters of all stripes to wreak havoc. Microsoft rolled out Preview Build 14986 of Windows 10 to insiders in the Fast ring on Wednesday, on the first day of its Windows Hardware Engineering conference (WinHEC) in Shenzhen, China. It's a rather substantial build, offering the ability to restart, lock, or shut down your PC via Cortana. It allows you more freedom to control your music via Cortana, provides better PC game support via the Windows Game Bar, includes a Windows Defender dashboard, features improved Windows Ink capabilities, and much more. The new build also ships with specific improvements for customers in Asia, including a better typing experience for Chinese keyboards.