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Lend Me An Ear

Technology organizations have been researching voice recognition technology over the last 2 decades. With significant improvements in recognition algorithms, some organizations have successfully deployed applications that effectively recognize user voice and execute commands. To create these effective algorithms, the code should self-learn and create effective database of various languages to be recognized by devices. Therefore, device manufacturing companies design their hardware so that the devices automatically recognize conversations in its environment.

Recently, Samsung was under a lawsuit due to the snooping behavior of its Smart TV. The license agreement of the devices specifically stated that the device may at times record and transmit recoded data to Samsung servers to improve customers experience in voice recognition technology. So which specific gadgets among the thousands in the market are actually listening to us?

Gadgets listening to you

Today nearly 90% of the high end smartphones have voice recognition while other smart electronic devices normally used in our daily life are getting upgrades that include voice recognition. Even desktops and laptops have started to snoop on user privacy by transferring audible data through the operating systems and generating necessary algorithms and data structures based on recorded vice. The top gadgets constantly listening to us are:

Moto X

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Image : YouTube

Motorola was the first company to include the OK Google feature in its smartphones. Since then it has always remain among the top devices that effectively detect user interaction with the device. In its recent release, the company made it clear that the devices keep on listening to the surrounding voice to be able to detect the OK Google command when spoken by the user.


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Image : Google

Google has been working on voice recognition technology since its early days. Today its web voice search API is one of the most advanced voice recognition engine on the planet. Therefore, the company has been heavily embedding voice recognition in its Nexus phones that keeps listening to its surroundings to detect the activation command.

Chrome and Applications that Use the Web Speech API

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Image : Google

Chrome has inbuilt voice search features that Google’s what the user speaks. Developers have used the web speech API in their respective applications to increase customer interactivity. Therefore each of the those applications and the browser itself is constantly listening to you every time you open up functions relating the use the API’s

Amazon Echo

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Image : Amazon

Amazons latest introduction to the market is built on voice recognition and self-learning algorithms that keep listening to the user and its surrounding to provide a seamless experience. The device is programmed to keep grasping information and change its own data structures to facilitate better experience for the users.

Xbox One

Image : Microsoft

Microsoft’s flagship gaming console now comes with voice recognition that allows users to wake the device instantly by speaking the key phrase. Unfortunately, users have reported the device waking up on commercials and recordings that utter the wake up phrase.

Cars and other Vehicles

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Image : PCmag UK

Computing resources and oil now allow vehicles to compute while driving thus providing a seamless experience to its users. Ford recently reported an upgrade to its Sync 3 that aims to ease user interaction with the system on board the car, therefore allowing automation of most tasks through voice recognition technology.


For now, most of the above mentioned and other voice recognizing devices and gadgets allow users to disable the service if they feel like its intrusion of privacy. But users and experts are still not clear about the amount of data stored and transmitted to the organizations servers and the potential threat that may arise out of it. Therefore, it is always better to gain control of your devices and allow it to listen to your conversations only when you want it to, else it is better to keep the features disabled.

Google kicked off its annual developer conference, Google IO 2014 in San Francisco on Wednesday. The two day event focused on unveiling the road map for many of its products. The conference which was largely an invitation-only event, concluded today with over 80 sessions on the agenda covering important announcements on its long list of products.

The keynote, as expected was choc-o-bloc with announcements that’ll cheer billions of android users globally. We round up the big announcements, hits, misses, and things to look forward to from the company that once considered naming itself “The BackRub”!

Android L : Taking a bite off the Apple?

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Google announced its contender to iOS 8, simply called L (Android 5.0) thus moving away from its history of naming its OS after sweet treats. If the end-result is anything like the keynote suggests, it is sure to be lapped by its billion-strong users.

Android L will feature what Google calls Material Design, with its pixels having not just shape but also depth. This would hand immense power to the developers to create more real world designs that are portable across devices without losing finess or functionality. Other major changes would include lockscreen notifications, and proximity sensing auto-lock to beef up on device security.

Android Auto : In Top gear

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You won’t have to fumble with your phone while driving anymore. Android Auto integrates seamlessly into your car with support for steering buttons, touchscreen and console dials. You also get Google maps incorporated in your car system with other mobile features like contacts, messages, reminders and more. With Android Auto under the bonnet, it’d be like taking your smartphone on a spin!

Android TV : Stream Entertainment

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In its rechristened avatar, Android TV will feature refined scrolling for better user experience. Also on the anvail is the voice search feature that’ll help you search for your favorite movies, tv shows and even stars. It’ll have a native game support that should bring cheer to the Android dev community. Sony, Philips and Sharp are some of the manufacturers on board already. Though, Samsung seems conspicuous by its absence in that lineup.

 Android One : Pocket-friendly ‘droid

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An android device costing less than a $100 is a sure-fire way to capture the mass markets. Through Android One, low cost phone manufacturers globally will be able to ascertain minimum hardware requirements for unified Android experience to users.

The program will launch in India with the arrival of devices for manufacturers like Micromax and Karbonn Mobile.

Android Wear : Gear up

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Google unveiled it Android Wear SDK with LG’s G watch and Samsung Gear Live. The wearable technology will take a quantum leap with users getting a host of smartphone features right on their wrists obviating the need to whip out large screen phones to check new updates.

Going by the demo, it would support both square and round displays. Android Wear will let users browse Google Now cards-like interface and supported apps from paired smartphone. The wearer can also create notes, reminders, set alarms, and make calls using the “OK Google” command.

While Samsung and LG are both accepting preorders for the smartwatches from today, Moto G will launch later this year.

Chromecast Update

Google's Android And Chrome Chief Sundar Pichai Holds News Event

Google’s home invasion continues with the new Chromecast update. The most notable feature is that the user doesn’t need to be on the same wifi network to cast content. Users will now have an option of connecting through other available devices nearby or via cloud.

Android for work

Google aims to bridge the gap when it comes to Android users personal and work life with Android for work on a single device. It will integrate applications in one place. The users will now be able to access MS Office native edit functions in Google docs.

For its enterprise customers, Google will introduce a premium Drive with unlimited storage at $10 per user per annum.

 Google cloud : Up and about

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Though there were no ground-breaking announcements on the Cloud front, Google demoed improvements that’ll let developers debug a live application running on multiple servers.

The new suite will include Cloud Save, Cloud Monitoring, Cloud Trace, and Cloud Debugger.

Google fit : Step on it

Like its rival Apple, Google too had jumped onto the fitness bandwagon with Google Fit. It’s a multi-OS API for fitness apps and devices. It will partner with Nike, Adidas, and Withings

Google Play : Game on

Google Play Games has added 100M new users in the past 6 months alone! It is no wonder then Google is going all out to woo them with new additions like leaderboards and game progress screens. For those who like a bit of challenge there’s a new Quest feature that allows the gamers to set and surpass goals.

 So, what was missing?

With so many announcements to be excited about, one can easily forget to remember the big ticket items that didn’t get any attention. And Google IO did keep the lid on for some biggies.

Google Plus didn’t find a place in Google’s agenda this year. According to a Google spokesperson at IO, the social network didn’t fit into this year’s theme of Develop, Design, and Distribute. With this omission Google’s blow-hot blow-cold relationship with the social network continued.

Also out of focus was Google Glass which hogged major limelight in the same conference last year. Even though, the delegates all turned up in Glass in such large numbers that it seemed like a part of the dress code!

The bots didn’t find a place in the conference or a mention in the keynote despite high expectations from fans after the Boston Dynamics acquisition last year.

For Google the focus this year was clearly on the bouquet of products and tools that can help developers enhance the Android experience for its end users.



Images Credit : Google IO


Google Talk with Voice and VideoGoogle is always working to release new and effective Internet solutions.  Continuing in this tradition, Google’s Talk messenger application has recently been updated with video and voice capabilities.  The new release is not meant to be a contender to Skype, as it does not possess the ability to connect to the standard phone network or voice mail support.

The audio and video is high quality, though.  Since Google Talk’s video traffic goes through Google servers, it’s expected to be more consistent as far as the connection then Skype since Google has endless bandwidth and server space. If you’re using an older computer, the PC may suffer poor performance during usage since the application utilizes a lot of resources.  There are no such issues with any recent system, however.

Straying from the path of other video chat products, Google Voice and Video uses a proprietary plug-in instead of Flash. A miniscule download of 2MB supports Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google’s own Chrome on a PC as well as Firefox on a Mac.  Details have not yet been released on support for other platforms, such as Linux, but ports for them may come later. Google Video and Voice made its official public debut at midday on Tuesday, November 18th. Now that Google provides Voice and Video, users have access to a vast array of tools with one login, including email, voice, chat, and soon even SMS. If Google ties in Youtube and Google Docs better in the future, the Google account will be nearly unstoppable.

Google’s Voice and Video is quite simple to use.  When the option is available, a "Video & More" button is shown in the chat messaging window.  Once selected, the plug-in will be installed and immediately accessible for video calls with friends.