MediaFile

War of Words: Google’s Android sharpens speech-recognition in duel with Apple’s iPhone

Google fired the latest salvo in the smartphone war with Apple on Thursday, jazzing up the allure of its Android phones with new voice recognition capabilities.

Google’s new Voice Actions feature lets users of Android phones quickly send text messages, play online music or find a restaurant’s phone number by barking commands into the handset.

SAMSUNG-PHONES/Anyone who’s ever been behind the wheel on a long drive, or running through an airport carrying multiple bags, will recognize the appeal of firing off a quick missive by saying something like “send text to Marlo, I’m running ten minutes late,” instead of stopping to type everything out.

Google wants to maintain Android’s reputation for voice recognition – the company said on Thursday that 25 percent of US users of Android 2.0 phones currently use voice recognition to conduct Web searches – as Apple hints at its interest in bringing speech features to the iPhone.

In April Apple bought Siri, which makes an app that allows iPhone users to do things like find restaurant address or movie listings online with voice commands.

Is Apple preparing a counter-attack to Google’s TV move?

Apple is keen on describing its Apple TV business as a “hobby.”

But one week after Google barged into the living room with its high-profile Google TV announcement, Apple suddenly looks like it’s taking its hobby a lot more seriously.

According to technology blog engadget, which cites an anonymous source “very close to Apple,” the Cupertino, California company has a new version of its Apple TV in the works that completely overhauls the original product.

The price of the Apple TV will drop from $229 to $99 (read: priced to move), and the device will be based on the iPhone operating system and pack Apple’s home-grown A4 processor under the hood.

SanDisk on bullets and phone wars

Eli HarariWatch out for that smartphone! The iPhone, Android phones and the like are the weapons of the latest technology war, in the view of  flash memory maker SanDisk, which supplies the memory chips that hold pictures, video and apps to the phone makers.

“We sell them ammunition. There is a war going on and we sell the bullets,” Eli Harari told the Reuters Global Technology Summit.

And bullets are selling briskly, even in the developing world, where people without computers are buying $20 phones and then adding a gigabyte or two of memory to hold all their pictures, the CEO said.

LinkedIn no longer MIA on BlackBerry

BlackBerry smartphones and LinkedIn seem like a natural fit, with both heavily used by the corporate set.

Yet the business-oriented social network, which released an app for the Apple iPhone 18 months ago, hasn’t had a specialized app for the armies of BlackBerry-wielding users.

That changed on Monday evening, when LinkedIn made its BlackBerry debut with a free app designed for users of the Research in Motion BlackBerry Curve, Bold and Tour series of smartphones.

Google “advocate” goes on anti-Apple warpath

Apple and Google have been duking it out in the smartphone market, on the acquisition front and in proxy legal battles. Now, Google has escalated its information warfare efforts by unleashing a cowboy-hat wearing software developer and tech blogger.

Tim Bray, who recently left his gig at Sun Microsystems (now Oracle), announced his new role as a developer advocate at Google with a fiery blog post assailing Apple for its restrictive iPhone policies:

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.

Google opens another app market

Online app stores are all the rage these days, whether for Apple’s iPhone, Nokia’s handsets or Google’s Android mobile phone software.

Now Google has hung out a shingle for yet another Internet market. The Google Apps Marketplace, which the company launched on Tuesday night, represents Google’s latest move to expand beyond search and bolster its online software business.

GoogFlag1With the new apps market, other companies will be able to offer applications that enhance Google’s existing family of Web-based software which includes everything from word processing and spreadsheet software to the Gmail email product.

Google steals CES spotlight, and a page from Apple

When it comes to blockbuster product introductions, Apple is king. So it’s not surprising that Google, which is looking to challenge Apple’s iPhone dominance, is stealing a page from the Steve Jobs & Co. playbook. Reuters

Reuters

Google emailed invitations to reporters on Tuesday for “an Android press gathering” that will take place at its Mountain View, California headquarters on Jan 5, as rumours continue to swirl that the company is preparing to release a Google-branded smartphone.

Yes, that’s the same week as the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Sony, Microsoft, Samsung et al will dutifully convene to show off their latest doodads.

iPhone shortages “nice problem to have”

Tongues are still wagging about Apple’s blowout quarter, which saw the company brush past Wall Street forecasts, sending its shares north of $200. But as Wall Street waited breathlessly for the latest iPhone numbers, it was the company’s Mac line that stole the headlines, posting blockbuster 17 percent unit growth.

So what was the deal with the iPhone? Unit shipments rose 7 percent to 7.4 million units, far from chopped liver but just below the consensus estimate. What? Apple missed? Well it wasn’t quite that simple. Seems the company simply couldn’t keep up with all the folks clamoring to get their hands on the latest model, the 3G S.

Apple COO TIm Cook called it “a nice problem to have in the scheme of things,” and called 3G S demand “phenomenal.” He said demand simply outstripped supply in most of the countries where it was selling the device.

Motorola and Google: a bar-room marriage

It’s easy to frame the latest tech business developments as epic clashes of giants and alliances of superpowers.

But Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha finds more inspiration for his metaphors in saloon bar lovers.

After unveiling the Cliq smartphone at the Mobilize 09 event in San Francisco on Thursday, Jha explained to the crowd how it was he turned to Google executive Andy Rubin and the Google Android operating system for the new phone.

Schmidt quits Apple board, no surprise there

Few observers expressed much surprise over Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s decision Monday to step down from Apple’s board. Analysts said the writing was on the wall, as Google’s Android smartphone software competes in the same market at Apple’s iPhone, and Google’s forthcoming Chrome operating system prepares to enter a market against Apple’s Mac OS.

Schmidt said earlier this month he expected to chat with Apple about his role on its board, and what with increased regulatory scrutiny about the company’s ties, many say it was only a matter of time.

“It’s the collision course that they’ve been on for a while, I think they’ve managed it well up to until now,” said Todd Dagres, a venture capitalist whose firm Spark Capital funded Twitter. “I think Eric getting off the board may be an indication of sort of the last straw here.”