The Tech News Blog

May 23, 2012

Comcast Adds Free Wi-Fi Calling for Voice Subscribers

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Comcast on Tuesday introduced a new service that allows home phone subscribers to make calls on their iPad, smartphone, or other mobile device at no cost, whenever they have Internet access.

Using their existing home phone number and the Comcast mobile app, customers will be able to make and receive phone calls and send text messages from their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Android smartphone for free when they are connected to a Wi-Fi network, Comcast said in statement. Voice calls can also be made with a customers' 3G or 4G wireless data plan, which does not count against their wireless minutes, but does consume data services.

The new service, dubbed Voice 2go, is available to those who subscribe to Comcast Xfinity Voice. To use the new feature, customers will have to download the Xfinity Connect Mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android devices.

The feature competes with wireless carriers' voice plans, as well as Internet calling services like Google Voice and Skype.

As part of the offering, customers will also be able to forward their home phone calls to up to four additional phones or devices. That includes call forwarding to other landlines, as well as their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Android smartphone.

March 5, 2012

Google to Debut ‘Open Siri’ for Android by Q4?

Watch out, Siri: There's going to be a new friend in town. A new report indicates that Google's allegedly working on a virtual assistant for Android that would allow users to "accomplish real-life goals" in a manner presumably similar to the voice commands iPhone 4S owners enjoy shouting at their smartphones.

TechCrunch's Alexia Tsotsis, speaking to unnamed sources, says that Google's expected to announce its own version of Siri by the fourth quarter of this year – quite a ways away for those looking have their Android phones actually respond to their voice instead of just translating speech to directions or search queries.

But Google's not just focusing its ambitions on a digital assistant. According to Tsotsis, the "Do engine," as it's referred to, is but one part of a three-part series of Google goals for 2012. Also making its way onto Google's "to-do" list includes getting, "the world's knowledge into a format a computer can understand," and continue working on ways to blend personalization into content – in other words, attempting to answer the question, "how do people actually interact with the content they find on the Web?"

Here's hoping that involves more than just hooking Google Plus into every service the company offers. But I digress.

December 19, 2011

Santa Uses Siri, Accepts Messages Via Gmail, Google Voice

Even in the age of ubiquitous personal computers, when you can find almost any answer on the Internet, some holiday secrets still hold sway over children (and even some adults who like to recall their childhood). Google has once again decided to add to the holiday fun surrounding the story of the bearded gift giver by letting you interact with Santa Claus, this time with a special twist.

A new ad (below) from Apple, meanwhile, suggests that the man in red is using Siri this year to help make deliveries.

Fans of Google Voice will remember last year when Google gave Santa his own phone number. This year you can call Santa's Google Voice number (855-34-SANTA) directly from your Gmail account and leave a message. And if you want to send a child or friend a message from Santa, you can visit Send A Call From Santa. The Google-run site takes you through a simple step-by-step process that allows you to send a phone message from "Santa" that is not only customized by gender and name, but also lets you add little touches that speak to the recipient's particular style.

For instance, if your friend is a yoga practicing, sushi lover, there are audio customizations for that, and if your friend is a rap music fan with a taste for expensive car rims and "gangsta" slang, Santa will also accommodate that approach. Once you start playing around with the different options, it's actually quite fun. Of course there are also plenty of options to tailor the audio as a kid-friendly message for children, sans any hipster irony. There are also options for those who don't celebrate Christmas, including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and various other non-specific holiday greetings.

December 5, 2011

Microsoft’s Voice Search for Xbox, Content Deals Go Live This Week

Microsoft Unveils Xbox Live Marketplace Black Friday Deals

Microsoft said Sunday night that it plans to launch its fall update for its Xbox 360 game console, complete with voice search via Xbox Kinect, this week.

Microsoft also announced a significant number of related content partnerships, bringing most major services to the Xbox platform this week or by early 2012. On Dec. 6, Starting Dec. 6, a free Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone will let also let users find, learn more about and control content from popular entertainment services on Xbox LIVE.

Shortly after midnight on Sunday night, Microsoft said that the "Bing on Xbox" update would arrive on U.S. consoles beginning "tomorrow," and roll out to U.S. console owners over the coming weeks. Those without a Kinect peripheral will be able to search using Bing text search.

The voice search capability, first revealed in June, will work with both the Xbox Live Marketplace, Zune Video, and selected content partners. On Dec. 6, presumably the date of the update, Microsoft plans to add content from new entertainment partners, including apps, from EPIX, ESPN, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and MSNBC's Today.