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We're still not getting voice assistants right



The BBC is launching its own voice assistant, appropriately called 'Beeb' (though the efficacy of that word is completely suspect in a world where people might talk about Justin Bieber, just saying). Upon hearing this news, you might be tempted to think, "Ugh, why? This is not necessary. "I would not jump to that conclusion.

The Beeb assistant might make a boondoggle, a waste of British taxpayer money, and a classic example of the BBC making a tech thing without a super clear reason or need just because it can. In fact, I would still be able to make all three of those things, but I'm still rooting for it anyway.

I'm rooting for Beeb because we're still screwing up this whole ambient computing, digital assistant thing. Thanks to the popularity of Alexa and the Google Assistant, we've come to believe that there's some kid-winner-take-most (or all) platform was happening along the lines of Windows vs. Mac vs. Android vs. iPhone. More ecosystem could look like like this.

Think about the conventional wisdom about voice assistants for a moment. We think of each platform as a direct competitor to create a larger ecosystem while a smattering of other competitors (Siri, Cortana) to make sure it does not turn into a two-horse race. In a remarkable twist, Alexa is open to anyone and everyone.

Throwing the beeb assistant into that mix is ​​like throwing a puppy into an MMA cage match. Everybody Loves the Puppy and the Big, Muscle-bound fighters will probably do their best not hurt, but their priority is kicking the other person's ass and so there's a good chance our little doggy's gonna get smooshed.

These are bad metaphors, but that's the point. Judging Beeb on the same scale as Alexa or Siri is just unfair. There's no inherent reason that Alexa Vs. Google vs. Siri vs. whatever needs to be a winner-take-all-cage-match-fight.

I can think of a ton of reasons that I would like to have a news-focused, accent-friendly voice interface to exist. I am an NPR listener here in the US and who are using smart phones, but the Google Assistant and Alexa are pretty dumb about finding I would care about. Imagine if the BBC or NPR could work as well as say, a web page.

I think that it would be great to have a variety of voice assistants available on a variety of different devices, all specialized for a variety of things. But somehow the idea that we could build a computing system based on voice that's somehow equivalent to the openness of the web and web browsers is almost unimaginable.

Now I understand that every tech giant can not build a good voice assistant privacy cookie jar. Suggesting that we should have a voice of different voice assistants right after we all discovered everybody what letting contractors listen to our voices is awfully naive. But maybe if you do not need to be good at everything, you would not need to do that.

I could imagine a world where there were a bunch of different voice assistants, each specialized in their individual tasks and Alexa and Cortana could become.

If these assistants had smaller remits, they might be easier to build. Making an assistant that seems to be impossible, but making an assistant that just seems to be using the BBC or your microwave oven, car, or email app seems to be much more manageable.

I could imagine other worlds too, ones where AI-enhanced voice interactions are commonplace and not run through algorithms controlled by Amazon or Apple or Google. I can imagine those worlds, but they seem like precious few people are trying to build them. So even though I doubt that the BBC is going to be successful with Beeb, I am happy that there are people trying to imagine with me.

Microsoft announces Surface event on October 2nd in New York City

Tom Warren predicts we'll see a dual-screen device at this event, and I am very very excited to see how Microsoft tackles that. But to tell the truth, what I will probably end up buying is a new Surface Pro (preferably with LTE, possibly with an ARM processor?). If you think about it, this scenario might exactly why this dual-screen device needs to exist: it's a concept that gets people into the showroom to buy the boring sedan. USB-C, I am going to flip out.

Microsoft has been building a new dual-screen device, codenamed "Centaurus," for more than two years, and it's designed to

Microsoft's Your Phone service was down just days after the Galaxy Note 10 release

With a little more Clarity and focus, Microsoft could really be on something with its Android efforts. Hell, it may have a third of the way towards having what it needs to release on an Android-based Surface phone, which could be fascinating. But, you know, the software has to work when the stakes are high (or even medium-low, as in this case).

The timing of the outage is particularly unfortunate for Microsoft as your phone is a Big part of the company's new partnership with Samsung. Nintendo Switch Lite hands-on: a budget handheld with a premium feel

The new Galaxy Note 10 comes with a unique version of your phone, dubbed "Link to PC," built into the handset that went on sale last week.

19659022] Chaim Gardenberg spent some time with the Switch Lite – definitely watch the video. For $ 199, this thing is going to sell like hotcakes. Maybe better, to be honest. I do not know that hotcakes are that big of a deal anymore. Anyway, this can not be done well. 19659024] TSMC is the most important tech company you have probably heard of. There's no real way of knowing if this lawsuit is going anywhere. TSMC real quick because there's a 100 percent guarantee that they are in the things you own.

While the legal battle is in its early stages, if courts rule in favor of GlobalFoundries, along with Apple, Google, and Nvidia, GF also calls out companies like Asus, Broadcom, Cisco, HiSense, Lenovo, MediaTek, Motorola, OnePlus,

Apple Puts 'Walkie Talkie' iPhone Project on Hold – The Information

It's very hard to read this nice scoop by Aaron Tilley at The Information and not spend the next four hours daydreaming about the possibility (and perils) of fully mesh-networked internet that obviates the need for gigantic internet service providers.

Apple is working with Intel on the technology that they are using to send their iPhones to other people.

Fairphone updates its ethical smartphone for 2019

After all the foofaraw about modular phones a few years back (Project Ara? Wah-Wah!), I'm really happy to see the fairphone keeping the dream alive. This is why modularity really could matter: sustainability and less impact on the environment. Plus, replaceable batteries!

Dear Jeff Bezos: The Fire Phone bombed, but you could invest in this thing (please do not buy it tho) and give it the capital to offer this phone, but offer higher-quality components to draw in gear -heads like me.

Yelp now offers personalized results

Do you want to rate your favorite items? Which, sure fine okay. But maybe do not use it? It's not a privacy thing. (Maybe it should be, I do not know.) It's a filter bubble thing. You are already self-selecting who you hear on social media, and your choices are reinforced by algorithms. I recommend that Yelp, which sends you IRL to local businesses, should not be another place where you limit yourself with a filter bubble. Go Forth And Try Weird Food, I say. Anyway, Dami Lee has a good story on the updates:

Yelp's head of consumer product The Theory: "This is not just about an algorithm trying to listen to what you did and make biased Verge.

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga are getting Intel's latest 10th Gen chips

I'm glad to see Intel's new chips are hitting more laptops, and I hope it will be available for journalists at poke at the IFA conference. But I want to admit that I'm a little bummed that the X1 Yoga – my personal favorite ThinkPad – is not the "Athena" label, which purportedly guarantees nine hours of battery life. So, these laptops are pricey!

Dani Deahl profiles Tom Holkenborg for our Future of Music series.

Sure, he works with orchestras, but he's not bound by their traditional sound. He can also make, as the sounds of Deadpool, "Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Miami Vice, but then on acid."

Belkin's cheaper water meter can use in the home and in the home

Growing up in Minnesota, leaving your house for more than 12 hours in January. It would like to freeze and break your entire house. You would never know if the gamble paid off until you got home. What I'm saying is this gadget seems to be neat, and I would want to live in the frozen north.


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