Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has Siri, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has Cortana, and Google Inc. (GOOG) has Google Now. The latter voice assistant debuted on the world’s most used smartphone platform in mid-2012 with the launch of Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean”.
A hot question for all three of the world’s most-used smartphone platforms (Android, iOS, and Windows) has been when third party apps will get access to Voice Assistant integration via an SDK. Such a functionality has been rumored in iOS for some time, but is currently missing.
Nuance Communications Inc. (NUAN), who codeveloped the voice recognition technology that drove Siri, has since 2012 offered a third party SDK for iOS developers called “Nina.” But it wasn’t until Microsoft offered up a Cortana API with the release of Windows Phone 8.1 last year that third party developers got true access to a low-level mobile voice assistant.
Now Google is looking to catch up to Microsoft in that department. This revelation comes courtesy of The Next Web‘s interview of Aparna Chennapragada, Director of Product Management for Google Now, at the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) show. The report states:
Google Now will one day be able to work with information from all of the apps you use. Expanding on the current pilot program that works with 40 third-party services, the plan is to offer an open API in the future, that anyone can build into their apps.
The Google Now chief says that Google is looking to improve Google Now with user surveys and that future builds of Android will try to do more to tweak the assistant to individual users’ timing and app usage prefferences. For example, reminders about meetings might be tailored to how early a user shows up and certain meetings. The report also states that the Google Now team is working to incorporate fun “Easter Eggs” into Google Now.
With Microsoft working on wild stuff like Cortana-integrated “Bing Predicts” and with Google Now finally coming to the app developer masses, the pressure is on Apple and its Siri. Apple has long closely coveted Siri as a tool to improve and differentiate its core iOS apps over rival third party solutions. To date it only provides developers with small pieces of Siri functionality in certain APIs like the text message API. But if it continues to hold on too tightly and denies developers full-fledged Siri access, it may find developers turning away from the less feature-rich iOS.
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