Is Siri still steps behind Google’s virtual assistants? [Friday Night Fights]

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Which virtual assistant gets your vote?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has taken big strides to make Siri even greater in recent years, like bringing it to Apple TV and macOS, and opening it up to third-party developers. In that time, Apple’s virtual assistant has also gotten more accurate and more reliable.

Friday Night Fights bug But some might say third-party alternatives — particularly those from Google — are still a step ahead, with greater features and more flexibility. So, is Apple doing enough to make Siri just as stellar as Google Now and the new Google Assistant?

Join us in this week’s Friday Night Fight as we go head-to-head over virtual assistants.

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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It's not as easy as you might think.
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

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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.

Hackers can silently access Siri and Google Now on your phone

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Siri
Hey Siri
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


Siri can be silently put to work against you, thanks to a new hack discovered by French security researchers that allows attackers to transmit orders to the digital assistant via a radio.

The hack also works on Google Now and utilizes the headphone cord as an antenna to convert electromagnetic waves into signals that register in iOS and Android as audio coming from the microphone. José Lopes Esteves and Chaouki Kasmie — the two French researchers that discovered the hack — wrote in their paper that hackers could use the attack to get Siri and Google Now to send the phone’s browser to a malware site, or send spam and phishing messages to friends.

“The sky is the limit here,” says Vincent Strubel, the director of their research group at ANSSI. “Everything you can do through the voice interface you can do remotely and discreetly through electromagnetic waves.”

Siri vs. Google Now: Who wins the AI cat fight?

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Fight!
Fight!

Friday-Night-Fights-bug-2Every mobile platform now ships with its very own virtual assistant, and while they all offer a similar set of basic features, Google Now and Siri are way ahead of their rivals. Google Now knows what you want and when you want it, but Siri has sass and personality, and is about to get a whole lot better with the help of Proactive.

If you were to pit the two against each other in a virtual ring, which one would come out wearing the belt? Join us as we find out in this week’s Friday Night Fight between Cult of Android and Cult of Mac!

Facebook is working on a Siri rival with a difference

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You know you're my favorite, Miss Moneypenny.
Photo: Eon Productions

Apple has Siri, Google has Google Now, Microsoft has Cortana, and soon Facebook may have the James Bond-inspired Moneypenny.

According to a new report, Facebook will introduce the assistant as part of its Facebook Messenger app, letting Facebook users set appointments, check the weather, or purchase products.

While that sounds relatively similar to the likes of Google Now and Siri, where Moneypenny will apparently differ is in the fact that it will connect users with real people to help with certain aspects of the research process.