"AI is the new UI" may be a cliché now. But back in 2011 when Apple first released Siri, the capability to control a mobile device by talking to it through an intelligent assistant was revolutionary. Granted, Siri wasn't as smart as HAL in the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" or Eddy, the shipboard computer in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," but it made enough of an impact on consumer technology to spawn a stream of similar intelligent assistants. And these will likely be joined soon by many others, including Samsung's Bixby, which is based on technology Samsung acquired when it bought Viv, a company founded by the people behind Siri. And just as the iPhone took off when Apple opened it up to third-party app makers, the key to the success of these intelligent assistants may well be the ability for third-party developers to access them and employ them as a user interface to their applications.
Google's voice assistant is about to be available on a lot more devices beyond the Google Home and Android phones. The AI - which rivals Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Microsoft's Cortana - will now be found on a new set of third-party speakers and appliances, the company announced today at IFA the consumer electronics show in Germany. These devices will either come with Google Assistant built in (meaning you can talk to it) or will be compatible with it (meaning you can use the assistant to control it). Google Assistant- which rivals Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Microsoft's Cortana - will now be found on a new set of third-party speakers and appliances, the company announced today at IFA the consumer electronics show in Germany. Google's voice assistant is about to be available on a lot more devices beyond the Google Home and Android phones.
As one of our mobility analysts at Blue Hill, I get (perhaps unduly) excited over any shiny new gadget, even though I've recently been disappointed by what seems like a lack of innovation in the mobile market (cue the "I miss the old Apple" rant). That's why I was excited, but skeptical, to cover Google's October 4th product announcement of its long anticipated "first" smartphone. But it's really not the hardware Google is focusing on with its most recent product launch, though it could certainly seem that way from its unveiling of the Pixel (the first Google branded smartphone), the Daydream View virtual reality (VR) headset, and the Google Home smart hub. No, it hasn't been about hardware for the past few years for mobile device manufacturers it certainly seems, with only small incremental changes being made to hardware (or, in the case of Apple's removal of the headphone jack, gigantic leaps and bounds of courage … but that's another story). Most of the focus of smartphone innovation instead has been coming from within: with the software, and most recently, artificial intelligence.
The two archrivals in the field of cloud computing are partnering so their voice-controlled assistants can talk to one another. Amazon currently dominates the market it created. Alexa and Cortana will be going to the dance together. On Wednesday, Amazon and Microsoft announced a first-of-its kind collaboration between the one-time rival digital assistants that will begin in earnest later this year. Owners of Amazon's popular Alexa-driven Echo speakers will be able to say, "Alexa, open Cortana."
Samsung's technological reach is formidable, shipping more phones than any other manufacturer. The company boasts nearly 23% of the global smartphone market, and its Gear VR headset, available since late 2015, is already among the most popular virtual reality devices going. But when it comes to voice-activated speakers, a medium that some believe is on the cusp of becoming the next major computing platform, there's reason to question whether Samsung has the wherewithal to keep up. The South Korean technology giant may be developing a new Amazon Echo-like smart speaker powered by its Bixby virtual assistant, reports the Wall Street Journal. But it's arrival would likely come long after category pioneers like Amazon, Google and Apple have either released or announced plans to launch voice-activated gadgets of their own.