Ultimate Ears speakers’ get voice upgrade that lets you ‘say it to play it’

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With the UE Boom 2, Ultimate Ears makes a great speaker even better.
A firmware update lets you bark song requests at your Boom 2 speaker. But you'll have to push a button first.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

A firmware update to Ultimate Ears’ Bluetooth speakers lets you use simple voice commands to make song requests.

After you install the over-the-air update, just tap the Bluetooth button on the top of your paired Boom 2 or Megaboom speaker, then say something like, “Play ‘Iron Man’ by Black Sabbath.” Soon the track will play as if by magic.

Apple to finally step up its AI game by opening Siri up to devs

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Siri popularized digital assistants, but it's quickly falling behind.
Siri won't be restricted anymore.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

We’re all stoked for our first previews of iOS 10 and macOS from WWDC, but according to sources familiar with Apple’s plans, it’s going to be Siri that steals the show.

The virtual assistant is expected to make the leap to the Mac for the first time, and could also open up to third-party apps and services — allowing users to check in for flights, book Uber rides, and do more using only their voice.

Cola is the smart messaging platform that makes life easier

Cola is getting even smarter with help from third parties.
Cola is getting even smarter with help from third parties.
Photo: Cola

We could all use a personal assistant who’s there to make life that little bit easier, and thanks to Cola, the world’s first smart messaging OS, we can all have one.

Cola is designed to take care of all the small but important things you have to do throughout your day, like arranging meetings and managing to-do lists. And for the first time, it’s opening up to third-party services to become even more powerful.

Siri might suffocate the southern drawl

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Siri Texas
King of the Hill's inscrutable Texan, Boomhauer, may not get a whole lot of use out of Siri.
Screenshot: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

Misunderstandings and repeated requests are among the hurdles that everyone who uses Siri — or any digital assistant, for that matter — have to deal with to run things with their voice, but some groups have it even harder than others.

If I want to make the smartbulb in my bedroom lamp turn white, for example, Siri always interprets “Make the Bedroom white” as “Make the Bedroom light,” and I can’t even imagine why I would be saying that. I can say, “Make the Bedroom green” or any other color, and it will work. But in order to get that direct-sunlight jam happening, I have to be more specific, like, “Make the bedroom light white.” And that’s not the worst problem to have with miraculous future-tech, but it is kind of hard to say.

But it could be worse; I could belong to one of the groups that have difficulty having even the most basic of interactions with Siri. And their problems don’t stem the program’s occasional deafness but rather its inherent incompatibility with how they speak.

We’re talking about Texans, y’all.