Narrative: Amazon is Ahead in Voice

Each narrative page (like this) has a page describing and evaluating the narrative, followed by all the posts on the site tagged with that narrative. Scroll down beyond the introduction to see the posts.

Each post below is tagged with
  • Company/Division names
  • Topics
  • and
  • Narratives
  • as appropriate.
    Narrative: Amazon is Ahead in Voice (Dec 27, 2016)

    This content is restricted to paid subscribers to the Tech Narratives service. You can sign up on this page for a 30-day free trial, which will give you access to all the content on the site including the daily comments, narrative essays, subscriber forums, and other restricted features. If you’re already a subscriber, you can sign in using the link below.

    If you’re already a member, you can sign in here.

     

    Google Launches a Closed SDK for Google Assistant on Third Party Hardware (Apr 27, 2017)

    This content requires a subscription to Tech Narratives. Subscribe now by clicking on this link, or read more about subscriptions here.

    Amazon Readying Launch of Echo Device with a Screen (Apr 27, 2017)

    This content requires a subscription to Tech Narratives. Subscribe now by clicking on this link, or read more about subscriptions here.

    ★ Amazon Announces Echo Look, Which Adds a Camera and Fashion Advice to Echo for $20 (Apr 26, 2017)

    This content requires a subscription to Tech Narratives. Subscribe now by clicking on this link, or read more about subscriptions here.

    Amazon Bans Almost All Ads in Alexa’s Third Party ‘Skills’ Apps (Apr 21, 2017)

    This content requires a subscription to Tech Narratives. Subscribe now by clicking on this link, or read more about subscriptions here.

    ★ Google Home Now Recognizes Multiple Users by Voice (Apr 20, 2017)

    This has been a long time coming – in fact, in just a few weeks it’ll be a year since Google debuted Home at its I/O developer conference and implied that it would have multi-user support, though of course it was missing when the device actually launched in the fall. And that’s been a big limitation of a device that’s supposed to get to know you as an individual. So the fact that Google Home now recognizes distinct users by voice is a big deal, and an important differentiator over Amazon Echo. I’ve just tried it with my unit and although it set up accounts for me and my daughter without problems the app conked out when I tried to add my wife, so the results are mixed (I suspect it may be because my wife’s account is a Google Apps account). It does recognize the two voices we set up and will now serve us up different responses, which is great. One big limitation, though, is that each user has to have a Google account and has to download the Google Home app onto their phone, which means it won’t recognize little kids who don’t have Google accounts. And given that it’s using voice recognition rather than, say, different trigger phrases, I can’t set up separate personal and work accounts. But for those who can use it, the Home will now be a much more useful device, serving up calendar information, music preferences and so on on an individualized basis rather than trying everyone in a home as the same person.

    via Google

    ★ Amazon Scales Alexa Back-End by Opening Lex Voice and Text Service to All Developers (Apr 19, 2017)

    So much of the focus of coverage of voice assistants and interfaces is on the dedicated consumer products which use them, and that’s natural: these are the most visible and measurable signs of a company’s success or failure in this space. And yet the scale of those dedicated voice product is still very small relative to smartphones, which carry their own voice assistants. And scale is vital if these products are to improve, because they require lots and lots of training to get better, and so the more users there are training them, the better they become. As such, I suspect the next phase of competition in this space is going to be about developer voice platforms at least as much as it is about first-party hardware and software, and we’re starting to see signs of this from the big companies in the space, including Google and Amazon. Today, Amazon announced that Lex, which is a back-end service that combines many of the technologies behind Alexa, is opening up to all developers. But critically, this isn’t just a voice platform – it supports text and voice processing, which means that many of the developers might use it in chat bots or other similar environments that have nothing to do with voice but still help train Amazon’s natural language processing tools. Google is doing similar things with its own voice processing technology, but it’s doubtful whether Apple will ever open its voice tools up in the same way. That’s not a huge deal, because it has massive scale in voice on smartphones alone, but it may make a bigger difference over time as these other platforms benefit not only from growing first party scale but increasing third party adoption and use too.

    via Amazon

    Amazon to Provide its Echo Mic Array and Related Technology to Select Hardware Partners (Apr 13, 2017)

    This content requires a subscription to Tech Narratives. Subscribe now by clicking on this link, or read more about subscriptions here.

    Burger King TV Ad Attempts to Trigger Google Assistant in Homes (Apr 12, 2017)

    This content requires a subscription to Tech Narratives. Subscribe now by clicking on this link, or read more about subscriptions here.

    Google Home is rolling out support for multiple users – The Next Web (Apr 10, 2017)

    This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody – Google actually showed off what appeared to be multi-user support in its demo of Google Home at I/O last year, but then it turned out the finished product didn’t support it when released in the fall. A little while back, rumors began surfacing that it would add the feature soon (and Amazon too), but that hasn’t materialized yet. The screenshot shared here suggests it’s imminent at this point. This is important, because assistants have to be personal if they’re to be really useful, and most people live in homes with other people, whether family members or roommates, and so things like calendar, email, to-do lists aren’t much use to individuals unless they can be recognized and served up different results. That’s not easy to do, especially because these speakers tend to process voices before recognition takes place, which actually makes it harder to recognize the speaker, but the companies were bound to figure it out eventually. If Google does end up launching this before Amazon, this will be yet another performance advantage, even though its distribution disadvantage remains enormous.

    via The Next Web