Xiaomi's next A.I.-packed voice assistant speaker may support Cortana

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Xiaomi revealed through its Mi Community that it will offer a new voice assistant speaker for $30 in January. Sold by Xiaomi subsidiary Yeelight, the big deal with this device is that it will sport two virtual assistants: One based on Xiaomi artificial intelligence technology to be used within China, and Amazon Alexa for customers located in the Western market. This dual-A.I. support enables Yeelight to sell the voice assistant speaker on a global scale.


Snips lets you build your own voice assistant to embed into your devices

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French startup Snips is now helping you build a custom voice assistant for your device. Snips doesn't use Amazon's Alexa Voice Service or Google Assistant SDK -- the company is building its own voice assistant so that you can embed it on your devices. And the best part is that it doesn't send anything to the cloud as it works offline.


Spotify is testing its own voice assistant to control your music

The Guardian

Spotify is experimenting with a voice-control interface, looking to free itself from reliance on Siri and Alexa and pave the way for the company's forthcoming smart speaker. Users of the service have spotted the new feature hiding in the search bar of Spotify's iOS app. After tapping the magnifying glass to search for a track or playlist, testers see a microphone icon inside a white bubble, according to the Verge. After users tap on the icon, Spotify suggests a number of typical requests for a voice-controlled music system: "Show Calvin Harris", "Play my Discover Weekly" and "Play some upbeat pop", for instance. The move comes as Spotify ramps up its efforts to build a smart speaker to challenge Apple, Amazon and Google in the hardware field, all of which have their own music services.


Voice assistants seem to be worse at understanding commands from women

New Scientist

Many people who use a voice assistant, such as Alexa or Google Home, will be familiar with them not fulling understanding commands. But now it appears they may be worse at understanding women than men. Polling company YouGov asked 1000 people in the UK about voice assistants. Around two thirds of the female participants said the devices failed to respond their voice commands some of the time compared to half of the men. "Our research reveals that women are more likely to encounter problems being understood by a smart speaker than men, …


Samsung's Bixby voice assistant is ready to help in the US

Engadget

The voice component of Samsung's Bixby assistant has been a long time in coming. The company was quick to boast about its AI helper at the Galaxy S8 launch, but revealed that the signature voice feature wouldn't arrive until later in the spring... and even then, it only had a full launch in South Korea. Americans had to make do with a preview. At last, though, it's becoming widely available: Samsung is officially rolling out Bixby's voice assistance to S8 and S8 Plus owners in the US. Every American with one of the flagship phones will get to talk to Bixby once an update arrives "tonight."