Apple patent points to next-gen Siri with sensors

Siri, Apple's virtual personal assistant, could be due for a dramatic overhaul, if a recently acquired patent is to be our guide.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Tuesday published patent 8,677,377, "Method and apparatus for building an intelligent automated assistant," which describes what is essentially a higher-end Siri that can provide automated assistance to people in a wide array of circumstances.

According to Patently Apple, the technology relies on software and a combination of sensors to identify where people are. In one embodiment, the patent shows how Siri, using information gathered from … Read more

How to teach Siri some manners

Siri tries its best to be helpful but sometimes doesn't seem to know how to respond or carry on a conversation. How can you improve the sometimes rocky relationship with Apple's voice assistant?

Let's start with one of Siri's worst faux pas -- interrupting you. By default, Siri doesn't know when you've ended a question or command and often misinterprets a pause as the end of your query. But in the new iOS 7.1, you can easily correct Siri's poor manners.

Simply hold down the Home button until you've finished your … Read more

The 404 1,432: Where we tell him about the Twinkie (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Samsung Galaxy S5 has tepid design, but plenty of specs appeal (hands-on).

- Are selfies causing the spread of head lice?

- BroApp sends automatic text messages to your girlfriend or SO.… Read more

Next generation of personal assistant takes a step towards 'Her'-style super-Siri

Who wouldn't fall in love with Scarlett Johansson whispering cinema listings in your ear? We're taking a step toward the Siri-with-added-personality portrayed in the movie "Her" with the next generation of natural language interaction: a virtual personal assistant that gives you more than just a list of search results and even learns what you like.

"Since the introduction of Siri, our world has turned upside down", said Lawrence Flynn, CEO of Artificial Solutions, the British company behind personal assistant app Indigo for Android and iOS. He describes how the company, founded in 2001, seeks … Read more

What happens when Siri embarrasses you in public

I'm aware that there's one reason why many people want the latest technology.

This may be roughly summed up as: Because technology.

But many forget, despite Edward Snowden's frequent reminders, just how much doo-doo technology can drop you into.

So there's something heartily honest about Chevrolet trying to sell you the Siri Eyes Free feature by revealing just how dangerous it can be.

Here we have a man driving along in his Chevy Equinox with his significant life-sharer in the passenger seat.

She wonders, quite casually, what he did last night, as he got in "… Read more

Microsoft to employ Halo voice actress for Siri rival, report says

Video game fans became giddy last fall upon hearing that Microsoft was developing a Siri competitor for Windows Phone code-named Cortana, after the AI companion of protagonist Master Chief in the Halo series. Now, it looks like Microsoft is going all in on that sci-fi vision for its personal assistant: Jen Taylor, the actress who played Cortana, is onboard to become the voice behind the information service, Microsoft blog MSFTnerd reported Thursday.

Little else has been dug up regarding the progress of the Cortana project or its arrival other than that it would likely come in one form or another … Read more

Apple's Siri could one day find your iPhone photos

"Siri, show me the photo of my wife and me taken at Rockefeller Center on December 20." That could eventually be a new way to locate a specific photo on your iOS device, at least according to Apple.

Published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, an Apple patent application called "Voice-based image tagging and searching" envisions a method of tapping into a voice assistant, such as Siri, to tag and find photos through various words and phrases.

iOS currently lets you sort and view the photos on your device by album, by date, and … Read more

Nope, Yahoo isn't building a Siri rival -- at least one we know of

Ever since Chief Executive Marissa Mayer arrived at Yahoo, the company has been saying it's going to emphasize personalization in its products. And with the former Google executive at the helm, Yahoo also has been toiling away on its search efforts.

But as far as we know, those efforts aren't culminating in a personal assistant app. A video circulating around the Internet on Wednesday that showed what looked like a Yahoo-branded personal assistant app isn't directly connected to Yahoo, according to a source familiar with the company's projects.

Web site Android Police reported that the Sunnyvale, … Read more

Siri battles Google Now in new contest

Which is better: Apple's Siri or Google Now? Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently put them both to the test.

First, let's take a look at Siri's performance.

Based on the results of 800 different queries, Siri showed an improvement in iOS 7 when compared to its behavior under iOS 6. Apple's voice assistant answered 79 percent of all the questions and fared better in a noisy environment than it did in last year's test results. Specifically, the latest version of Siri got a higher mark than the previous version for its ability to interpret … Read more

Want to stump Siri? Try 'What's 3.23 minus 1.27?'

Apple's Siri possesses many skills, but subtraction doesn't seem to be one of them.

Asking Siri "What's 3.23 minus 1.27?" resulted in an odd answer. Instead of responding with the correct value, Apple's voice assistant told me the current date. I tried again and got the same response. Delving further, I asked Siri to subtract a variety of other numbers with decimal points, such as "4.23 minus 1.27," "8.12 minus 3.23," "6.43 minus 2.41," and "5.25 minus 4.… Read more