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Smartphones

How tech firms are using artificial intelligence to help smartphones think like we do

Digital assistants are high on the priority list of big tech companies looking to give Apple’s Siri some new AI friends

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 5:43pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2016, 5:08pm

Major technology firms are racing to infuse smartphones and other internet-linked devices with AI software that help them think like people. Other than Amazon and Google, here are some other digital assistants on the market for both home and away.

Samsung

The South Korean electronics giant may be under fire for its faulty Note 7s, but it’s hard at work to push for new tech, including purchasing the US start-up Viv Labs, launched by the creators of Apple’s Siri. Samsung says the acquisition announced this month is part of its effort to provide AI-based voice assistance services its customers can use across all Samsung devices and products, from smartphones to televisions to washing machines.

Apple’s next challenge is to make Siri smarter as it plays catch-up with rivals’ artificial intelligence

Samsung is the world’s leading maker of smartphones powered by Google’s Android software, but also has its own Tizen mobile operating system, so how it may field its own virtual assistant technology remains to be seen.

Microsoft

Microsoft’s personal assistant uses the name Cortana and is available on Windows devices and its Xbox console and as an application on Apple iOS and Android devices.

Unveiled in 2014, Cortana – a name based on a character in its blockbuster game Halo – responds to conversationally spoken requests or commands, using insights gleaned from calendars, contact lists, online searches and other smartphone sources to respond in a manner akin to a real-life aide.

Facebook

Heavily investing in artificial intelligence, this social media platform is widely believed to be working on a personal assistant with the code name “M”.

Mark Zuckerberg has said he wants to create a real-life version of “Jarvis”, the assistant of Tony Stark from the Marvel cinematic universe.

For now, Facebook is enabling AI-powered “bots” on its Messenger mobile application that allows users to get answers to questions and engage in text exchanges as though chatting with the social network itself.

Apple

Apple was the first to offer its personal assistant, Siri for the iPhone in 2011, and has been working to improve it over the years.

Recently, Siri was upgraded to interact with non-Apple applications, so users can book a ride with Lyft [a competitor of Uber in the US] or make payments using Square Cash.

Apple has also introduced a Home application that can connect with smart appliances and other devices, and is reportedly working on a stand-alone speaker similar to Amazon Echo and Google Home.