Voice enabling apps

In Mobile, Voice Enablement on August 19, 2016 at 11:49 pm


As Apple readies iOS 10 there’s soon to be powerful new ways that Siri will enable features within your apps. It’s understood from Apple’s recent acquisition of VocalIQ in 2015 that certain types of apps using the Siri API will have more advanced access to vocally direct apps on the iPhone.

Specific app types that will have voice-enabled feature access via Siri include:

  • Ride Booking
  • Photo Search
  • Messaging
  • Payments
  • VoIP calling
  • Workouts

However in apps where Apple has first-party options (e.g. Apple Music) it will likely put the kabosh on competing solutions having similar voice-enablement (think Spotify). There’s a fascinating array of interface enhancements that voice-enablement can help with other apps in areas from social, language translation, e-commerce, travel, real estate, education. All of which are all begging for voice-enabled features.

Amazon’s Echo been a hit with obviously popularity in kitchens where things can get messy. It’s also not hard to see how popular these types of services may become for the automotive industry. Keep your ears open – there’s likely many yet thought of opportunities for voice enablement in your daily activity on your phone, car and inevitably the smart home!


Tablets, Smart Phones and the User Interface

In Mobile on January 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

PhabletThe incredible rate of adoption of tablets and smartphones has brought some interesting speculation about what might be next. Thus the invention of the latest term “phablet” i.e. a hybrid of a tablet yet diminutive enough to be considered a phone. This leads me to wonder if this fast evolving segment of the industry may have reached it’s nadir. The latest news from Acer indicated that Windows 8 was a bust for them yet the Chromebook was a gain.   Which seems to indicate – albeit from a small sample of manufacturing –  that the pendulum is swinging back toward the keyboard.

There’s an ergonomic issue with having to continuously and deftly maneuver one’s digits across a small screen that can make web browsing and typing on a tablet or smart phone a tiresome effort. The efficiency of the mouse and keyboard does have distinct advantages for negotiating the travails of a spreadsheet or Powerpoint presentation that a touchscreen will unlikely ever be able to replace.

However there are some rather viable alternatives becoming available. There are of course the very helpful hands-free solutions available for the disabled that rely on eye or head movement to register, though these have been around a number of years. More recently the development of a solution that picks up hand motion and position called Leap Motion is providing some rather exciting usage applications. Making a little wild-speculation it may be possible one day that we can dictate to our devices by simply mouthing the words. For example NTT DoCoMo had created a prototype in 2002 that could lip-read a users speech. Known as silent-speech interface it’s been a while since this first was noted though if it ever is commercialized it could have a myriad of uses.

Having attended some car shows of late I have also noted the leap ahead in automotive communication, entertainment and navigation technology. Of most interest are those automated by voice-command. It’s supremely easier to speak directions into an accurate voice-recognition GPS device than it is to type. The concept of voice command makes sense for the phone (though apparently less so for Siri!) I also expect this to be integrated more heavily in tablets. Already there is Google search with a voice-command feature in the most recent Android OS.

On the subject of phones and keyboards, RIM’s Blackberry 10 is due for release days from now. It will be interesting to see whether the tried and true integration of keyboard and phone remains or RIM abandons it’s typing-friendly fiends and moves to touch screen.  Stay tuned.

Mobile Ad Targeting

In Mobile on February 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Smart phone deviceAs mobile begins to move into high gear it’s becoming apparent to many media players that there are certain limitations to the medium’s ability to target with the same flexibility as online. Cookie targeting has been a go-to option for most behavioral advertising and retargeting in the standard web format. However on mobile web and in-application it is a different story.

Cookie’s in mobile have limits and do not work ubiquitously on iPhone, however have had some success in Android environments. Device identifiers are also becoming a challenge. Apple has planned for example to deprecate the UDID (unique device identifier) in their next version of iOS 5 for iPhone. This leaves Android which for now shares it’s Android ID however that too, at some point, could be obfuscated. There’s recently been some  questions about how best to target and track mobile users as highlighted in the article. There’s some unease about the data being transmitted through the ecosystem and exactly what is shared and with whom. However most mobile exchanges have devised innovative approaches that both protect user privacy by encoding the UDID. At the same time they can incorporate user interests based on app or content viewing activity and related demographics based on region of geo-location. This provides a solution that is private and of value to advertiser, the best of both worlds.

What should be noted behind all this concern on mobile tracking is that two of the largest ad networks, namely iAd and AdMob respectively, are owned by Apple and Google. Having a valuable combination of device, mobile OS and ad ecosystem could pose a true challenge to mobile network incumbents and new comers. Effectively, without cookies, the device ID becomes the defacto touch point for retargeting and the only solution for targeting beyond geo-location and context. If either of these networks begins creating a walled garden around their users and respective device IDs, it will create many challenges for advertisers and networks to target efficiently without going through their services.

Apple is recently noted for having submitted  a patent for enabling mobile ad targeting based on a persons web history, search history or media library. This could make for an even more fertile targeting environment should iTV become a widely adopted service. This is looking more likely also with the recent announcement of Apple to partner with a number of Canadian ISPs.  Additionally, Google’s recent consolidated privacy terms  opens up a slew of interesting ways that Google could target logged in users on mobile. And don’t forget their recently announced Chrome browser for mobile.

For now the mobile ad network environment remains an evolving one and a little murky with respect to methods and approaches for targeting ubiquitously. Whomever can capitalize on the data and identifier while providing a safe and privacy-centric ecosystem for users and advertisers will certainly have their day in the sun. With iPhone at a US smart phone market share of 43% and Android at 48% it’s still a horse race, but my money is on Google by a nose. 3 out of every 5 new smartphones purchased now according the NPD research is Android.