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.

Hackers can silently access Siri and Google Now on your phone

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The lawsuit over Siri's technology is over.
The lawsuit over Siri's technology is over.
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.”