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Google's most far-fetched ideas that might seem crazy or simply impossible to its competitors, are called "moonshots." Google's next moonshot is to remove language barriers, with news of development starting on a voice-enabled universal translation system.
Google has reportedly started work on the voice-enabled translator smartphone app, that is currently capable of translating 24 different languages. Google's head of Translate, Franz Josef Och, has said that the voice-enabled translator is quite slow at the moment, but mentions the improvements made in Google's text-based Translation service over the years, stating that the voice-enabled service will see the same improvements over the eyars.
Considering over 200 million users used the Google Translate service last year alone, Google's new moonshot is definitely worth pursuing. I'd love to have something that would get the dialect right in non-English speaking countries. I'd love to be able to travel to Taipei for Computex in a few years time, speak into a translate app and have it speak fluently to the taxi driver, or someone at 7/11 or a restaurant. Come on Google, reach for the moon.
Google never sleeps, and thankfully, as we have an updated Google Maps app that now includes a bunch of improvements. First off, navigation speeds have been improved, with complete route and traffic overviews.
Bug fixes and stability improvements have been baked in, with the full change log below:
- Faster access to navigation, complete with route and traffic overview
- Improved hotel search results with sponsored rates and booking links
- Tips and Tricks available in the side menu
- Bug fixes
You can grab the updated Google Maps app here, if your device hasn't already automatically updated. It should begin rolling out later tonight to those of you who haven't read this news yet.
It looks like Microsoft is set to work on a mobile personal assistant, that will tie in with all of it's products. The voice assistant is going to be named after Cortana, who was the AI character in Halo.
Nuggets of information have been popping up regarding Microsoft's voice assistant, with an app called 'zCortana' the biggest hint in an early version of the Windows Phone OS. Stefan Weitz, director of Being, commented on the fact that Microsoft was building a competitor to Apple's Siri and Google Now, but wanted it to be better. He said: "We are not shipping until we have something more revolutionary than evolutionary. There are teams working hot and heavy on this right now."
After the missteps that were Surface and Windows 8, I expect great things from Microsoft's voice assistant. Microsoft has yet another uphill battle before them, as its competitors' services continue to get better and better with each passing day.
I've only just started playing with Google Play Music, finding myself not liking it all that much when compared to Spotify, but maybe I'm just used to Spotify? Well, the Mountain View-based giant has pushed out an update to its music-playing app, adding genre-based radio stations.
There's also some improvements included to the download queue menu, but the new radio stations is the ticket here. They can be selected based on a bunch of pre-defined genres, where you can listen to them from a single tap from the Radio menu of the app. The update to Google Play Music brings it to version 5.2.1204L, and includes the option to pause, resume or cancel downloads that are ongoing.
This is a great option if you're running low on battery, or were about to leave the house and were connected to Wi-Fi and didn't want to eat into your download quota. You can grab the Google Play Music app here, if your smartphone or tablet hasn't already updated.
Today, Microsoft announced that it has released the long-awaited Android and iOS apps for its Xbox Music service. Additionally, the company announced that the apps now feature extended free music streaming, which had previously been exclusive to Windows 8/RT. Much like Spotify, Rdio, and other streaming services, Xbox Music uses your device's Wi-Fi or data plan to stream songs of your choosing to your device.
Unlike Spotify, unfortunately, Xbox Music for Mobile does not yet support off-line playback, but it does, however, come with six months of free streaming, and after those six months are up, users are limited to how much they can stream without purchasing a subscription. Additionally, this free streaming comes to the Xbox Music for the Web, which allows Windows 7 and Vista users to listen to music through the Xbox Music service.
Today, Futuremark announced the release of its 3DMark benchmarking application for iOS. The new app comes a few months after the release of 3DMark for Android and allows both mobile operating systems to run "unlimited" benchmark tests on any Android or iOS device and compare devices across operating systems.
Futuremark says that the new iOS addition of 3DMark includes everything you would need to accurately benchmark the performance of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Users can directly compare 3DMark scores to other devices running iOS, Android, Windows, and even Windows RT, once the RT version is released, of course. The company says that testers will now be ready to benchmark and compare any new devices that Apple may release tomorrow during its press conference.
Futuremark has added a new test to 3DMark specifically designed for making chip-to-chip comparisons across mobile devices and operating systems dubbed 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited. This new test can be added to the Android edition of the app by updating to the latest version. Additionally, Futuremark has built a mobile hardware database of all of these scores from the most popular smartphones and tablets that have been benchmarked using the 3DMark application. Check out the sources listed below for both download links as well as a link to the 3DMark mobile hardware database.
This morning, Amazon announced that it has released a "mandatory" update to its Kindle app on iOS. Kindle users on iOS received the notification informing them that failure to update the app to the latest version could cause the loss of books and account registration when upgrading to Apple's new iOS 7 mobile operating system.
It is widely expected that iOS 7 will be released tomorrow during Apple's launch event, at which it will also debut the new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, of which both devices are said to be running iOS7 out of the box. There is no explanation as to why books may be lost without the update, but since it's free and only takes a few minutes, upgrading to the new version should not be an issue for any user.
The warning notification users received is below:
This is a fix for a Kindle issue with the upcoming iOS7 OS upgrade that may cause customers to have to re-register and re-download books from Amazon. Please download and install - this is a required update before upgrading to iOS7.
It looks like Instagram wants to do something with the 150 million active users it has, where the company has told The Wall Street Journal it will soon be introducing advertising to the popular app.
Instagram's director of business operations, Emily White, said that Instagram would be ready to sell ads before the year is wrapped up. Since Facebook acquired Instagram last year, the service has added more than 100 million users. Right now, there's no date on when the service will be adding ads, but the Journal has said that White is talking with advertisers right now.
White reportedly met with some advertising heavyweights last week, which included Ford and Coca-Cola. White told the Journal: "We want to make money in the long term, but we don't have any short-term pressure."
Ubisoft's upcoming open-world game, Watch Dogs, is looking more impressive by the day, especially with the ctOS Mobile app. The ctOS Mobile app will let you challenge your friends, or poke them if you dominate them in a game.
The news is coming from Anne Lewis, who is a communications associate for Ubisoft, who showed the application off by locating her friend on the app's map of Chicago, tapping on them and starting a challenge. One her friend accepting the challenge, he had to hit four checkpoints within a limited time period. Her job was to stop him from changing the game world from within the app.
She elaborated by saying: "By dragging the helicopter on the screen to hover over the console player's marker (which moved in real-time with his movements on the screen) I was able to see the various aspects of Chicago's infrastructure I could affect. As my opponent stole a car and headed toward an intersection I quickly hacked the traffic lights, sending cars careening into him. His luck held out and he was able to keep moving. If a player dies during the challenge it's not an automatic game over, but he'll have to start back at the beginning and none of the time is returned."
It looks like BlackBerry's BBM for iPhone might reach us quicker than previously thought, with BlackBerry Senior Strategic Account Manager Alex Kinsella tweeting that Apple has BBM for iPhone, and BlackBerry is just waiting for its approval.
Kinsella tweeted: "Just in case we forgot to mention, BBM for iPhone was submitted for review 2 wks ago #waiting #BBM4ALL." We've already been teased of BBM for Android, so let's hope Apple is quick with its approval and gets BBM for the iPhone onto the App Store, ASAP.