eMarketer says voice-assistant use is reaching ‘critical mass’

Hey Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, DuerOS and other voice assistants: how popular ARE you in 2019? Research firm eMarketer has published some new numbers for use of this technology in the US. “We estimate that 111.8 million people in the US will use a voice assistant at least monthly this year, up 9.5% from 102.0 million in […]

Spotify reportedly in talks with Apple over Siri support

The Siri voice assistant is one of the points of contention in Spotify’s anticompetition complaint against Apple: “‘Siri, can you play that awesome Spotify playlist?’ Siri says no,” as Spotify’s ‘Time to Play Fair’ website put it. Yet Apple’s soon-to-launch iOS 13 software *will* allow non-Apple music-streaming services to properly work with Siri, and thus […]

Pandora rolls its voice assistant out to all mobile users

Pandora unveiled its own Alexa-style voice assistant in January this year, working with tech partner SoundHound to launch a ‘Hey Pandora’ voice-control feature in its mobile app. Six months later, the feature is now rolling out to all of Pandora’s mobile users on iOS and Android, whether they’re on the free or subscription tiers of the service. The feature […]

Report pitches ‘voice’ as the next big interface shift

If you’re looking for some new reading material around smart speakers and voice interfaces, try investment firm Mangrove Capital Partners’ new report ‘Voice: Welcoming the Next Generation of Disruptors’. “Importantly, this shift will go far beyond checking the weather forecast, requesting music or setting a timer,” is how the report summarises the impact of voice […]

Amazon reveals details on how it keeps Alexa data

In an exchange with US senator Chris Coons, Amazon has been explaining more about how it stores data on people’s interactions with its Alexa voice assistant. Coons had written to the company asking how long it stores recordings and transcripts, and got an answer from Amazon’s VP of public policy Brian Huseman. And the answer? […]

Facebook to launch new models of its Portal smart display

Facebook launched its first Portal smart speakers – or rather, smart displays, since they came with screens – in October 2018. The 10 and 15-inch screened devices went on sale first in the US, using Amazon’s Alexa for their voice-control features, with support for Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio on the music-streaming side. Facebook hasn’t yet announced […]

BBC plans Alexa rival

“Auntie – what’s the weather going to be like today?” This is not some reference to Mary Poppins or Paddington but rather to the fact that the BBC is reportedly working on a voice assistant rival to Alexa and Siri. It is being dubbed “Auntie” internally but will probably not be the official name it launches […]

Facebook is working on its own Alexa-style voice assistant

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal interest in AI voice-assistants is well known: in 2016 his personal mission for the year was building an AI ‘butler’ named Jarvis. Now the social network is working on a voice assistant to serve its 2.32bn users around the world. CNBC was first to report on the plans yesterday, claiming that a team […]

Pandora will test interactive voice ads later this year

When we talk about what voice assistants and smart speakers mean for music, we tend to focus on interactions with the music itself: people asking Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri to play certain tracks and artists, or other kinds of requests eliciting personalised streams of music. We don’t talk so much about how those music […]

Smart-speaker startup Whyd pivots to focus on software

Music Ally first wrote about French startup Whyd back in 2012, when it was a discovery website for people to collect music from YouTube, SoundCloud and other sources in one place. By 2016, the company had pivoted to focus on building its own smart speaker as a rival to Amazon’s Echo. Now it’s shifting again, […]

Report claims voice assistants are ‘bigger in the car’

When we write about voice assistants and smart speakers, we tend to assume that these trends are happening first in the home, and will then move to cars. Actually, a new study from Voicebot suggests that this may be muddled thinking. “Smart speakers and other devices with embedded voice assistants get a lot of media […]

Michael Bublé is the latest artist to get his own Alexa skill

Paloma Faith, then Little Mix, and now Michael Bublé. The Canadian crooner is the latest artist to get his own Alexa skill – a voice-controlled app for Echo smart speakers and other devices using Amazon’s virtual assistant. Fans saying ‘Alexa, open Bublé Daily’ will get access to the skill, which has launched in the UK, […]

Tencent Xiaowei virtual-assistant will link to QQ Music

Just as Apple gets set to launch its HomePod (Siri voice-assistant included) in China, so local tech giant Tencent is preparing to launch a new smart-assistant of its own. It’s called Xiaowei, and according to Bloomberg will make its debut within Tencent’s hugely-popular WeChat messaging app. “The assistant will link to a plethora of Tencent’s […]

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