We recently asked if Apple’s ongoing legal battles with Samsung were worth the effort for the computer giant. As if to answer our question, this week Apple amended their infringement claims with a new motion filed in the second California patent case targeting five patents that the Galaxy S 4 infringes on. But the motion contained a new component; the targeting of Google Now’s search app.
Foss Patents has a thorough run down of Apple’s claims, including the specific five patents Apple says Samsung is in violation of. The main point of contention that the Android Quick Search Box and Google Now infringe upon several of their patients covering their own voice search program Siri.
In a footnote found in their motion Apple sums up their claim thusly:
Apple determined that the Galaxy S 4 product practices many of the same claims already asserted by Apple, and that the Galaxy S 4 practices those claims in the same way as the already-accused Samsung devices.”
It will be interesting to see how the courts rule on this motion. Head over to Foss Patents to read the complete motion and find an explanation of the patents Apple says are currently being violated. We will keep you updated as this case continues to develop.
In its ongoing litigation against Samsung, Apple has added five new patents to its claims, targeting both the company’s new flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone, as well as the Google Now service for Android.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News
Apple’s voice interaction system Siri has been updated, this time specifically to ask users to keep it short. Siri’s system doesn’t deal well with longer user queries, so if you happen to ask something that’s just too long for Siri to deal with, she’ll interrupt you, giving you a quote from a famous person, and then asking you to rephrase the question, shorter or in fewer words. Siri herself doesn’t have the authority to change your speech patterns, apparently, so she’s recruited legendary wordsmiths like William Strunk and Thomas Jefferson to make her point more clearly.
Ironically, the quotes used aren’t very short at all, which makes the whole process go even longer. But at least Siri is telling you the problem with what you tried to ask her, rather than just using a generic, “Sorry, Mike, I didn’t get that.” If a user is sending a query that’s just too long, this is definitely a clearer way of asking for a correction.
Apple has quietly given Siri the ability to answer user responses with quotes, citing famous passages from notable people like William Strunk and Thomas Jefferson. First noticed by iLounge, the quotes are used when Siri is asked a question that is excessively long, tactfully reminding the user of the value of brevity.
When Siri is given a request that is too lengthy, she will now respond with one of several different quotes that suggest that the user shorten the question. For example, one quote from Thomas Jefferson reads, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
Siri has a range of different quotes in her repertoire, including one from the 1970′s television show MASH.
It is unknown when the change to Siri was implemented, but a Reddit thread from last week appears to contain the first known instance of the phrasing, suggesting that Siri’s new quoting ability was added within the last week or two.
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Building on yesterday’s report describing a “very, very flat” design for iOS 7, 9to5Mac reports that Apple is also looking to make significant improvements to vehicle integration with the next-generation mobile operating system. In particular, Apple is looking at ways to integrate Maps and Siri with the built-in displays increasingly found in cars.
According to people familiar with the plans, Apple is working with car makers on updated versions of car center consoles that could attach to iOS devices like the iPhone. Specifically, an iPhone could be plugged into a car and an optimized, redesigned version of Apple Maps will appear on the car’s built-in display instead of a proprietary GPS system found in many cars.
Sources have described this as a feature akin to a video-out or mirrored display representation of the iPhone’s Maps app onto the bigger screens included with most modern vehicles.
The report’s sources warn that the actual integration may take some time to appear given the complexities of negotiating deals with car companies, testing, and required improvements to Apple’s services infrastructure, but that the technology supporting the integration is coming as part of iOS 7.
Apple last year announced an “Eyes Free” mode for Siri as part of iOS 6, but it took until February of this year for Chevrolet to become the first car manufacturer to offer the integration with its Spark and Sonic models. A number of manufacturers have, however, committed to support Eyes Free in their vehicles in the future.
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According to the Wired report, your iOS device records what you say to Siri and sends that clip to Apple’s servers for analysis. As part of the voice recognition translation and response, Apple assigns a set of random numbers to the clip to identify the user from which it originated. This number is used during the back-end voice processing to make sure the response is sent back to the correct phone.
Apple stores this clip along with the random number for six months. After six months, the number is stripped from the file and the file is kept for up to 18 months.
The practice of storing of anonymized data for several years is common among tech companies that handle large volumes of data. Wireless carriers, for example, keep select user data like text message history for up to five years.
Data collected by Apple to improve its voice-driven Siri service is anonymized and kept on the company’s servers for up to two years before it is discarded.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News
Yesterday, Wired reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was raising questions about Apple’s privacy policies regarding Siri, citing vague statements indicating that older “disassociated” voice clips would be kept for a “period of time” even if a user deactivated Siri on his or her device.
“It’s not clear what ‘disassociated’ means. It’s not clear what ‘period of time’ means. It’s not clear what using it to ‘generally improve Siri and other Apple products and services’ means,” says Nicole Ozer, a lawyer with the ACLU. “The only thing that’s clear is we really don’t know what may be happening to the personal information we have told Siri, even after we turn Siri off.”
The report noted that privacy concerns have led to instances where companies such as IBM have banned the use of Siri.
In a follow-up report today, Wired shares official word from Apple that such data is stored in anonymized form for two years and reveals general details on how that data is anonymized.
Here’s what happens. Whenever you speak into Apple’s voice activated personal digital assistant, it ships it off to Apple’s data farm for analysis. Apple generates a random numbers to represent the user and it associates the voice files with that number. This number — not your Apple user ID or email address — represents you as far as Siri’s back-end voice analysis system is concerned.
Once the voice recording is six months old, Apple “disassociates” your user number from the clip, deleting the number from the voice file. But it keeps these disassociated files for up to 18 more months for testing and product improvement purposes.
Ozer suggests that Apple should go further in publicizing these privacy policies, linking them directly from Apple’s Siri FAQ page, and that users should always be mindful of what they are saying to Siri because “Siri works for Apple”.
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In this episode of “Stupid Siri Tricks,” I make my iOS devices control a remote Mac. How remote? Well, it should work anywhere on the planet (or off, if you happen to be on the International Space Station) with Wi-Fi or a cellular data connection. If you can take a note with Siri, you can make your Mac do your bidding from wherever you may be.
I was inspired to do this after watching a video by Niles Mitchell in which he uses a 512K Mac with the original Mac Speak application to issue a command to Siri, which then set a chain of events into motion resulting in some files being moved from that ancient Mac to Dropbox.
It occurred to me that he was using the Notes application and iCloud to accomplish all of this. Essentially, you tell Siri to “Write a note”, after which you dictate a note and it is synced to all of your devices through iCloud. The lightbulb went on, so I wrote a quick little application in AppleScript to wait for certain notes to appear and then perform actions on the Mac.
One of the more useful things I could think of was the ability to shut down my Mac or at least put it to sleep if I forgot to do so before going on a trip, so I set up my application to look for “Shut down” or “Go to sleep” notes to perform either of those actions. Perhaps I want to do a remote restart? All I have to do is tell Siri “Restart my mac” and it happens. I also built in the ability to see what apps are currently running on my Mac and return them to my iPhone or iPad in another note. The possibilities are endless…
To use this little “Siri Listener” app, just copy the code below and paste it into a blank AppleScript Editor page. Save the code in case you want to add your own customizations at some point, and then Export as an Application, making sure that you check the boxes for “Stay open after run handler” and “Run-only”. To make sure your Siri Listener is always available for your commands, make sure you set it to run at startup.
Make sure that you know how to use Siri to take notes. Just press the home button on your favorite iOS device, wait for the Siri prompt, and then say “Write a note”. Siri responds with some sort of question about what you want the note to say, after which you can speak the appropriate command.
Note that I wasn’t thinking clearly when I wrote my initial script — I actually have to say “What apps are running question mark” to get the note in the proper format for Siri Listener to act upon. I’m probably going to change it to something more generic like “List my mac apps” to avoid the punctuation.
I was really wishing that the Photo Booth app was scriptable, as it would be possible to have the Mac’s camera take a picture and then attach it to a Note for you to view. I can also see that the Siri Listener idea could be the perfect tool for playing pranks on unsuspecting co-workers, but of course you wouldn’t do that…
Have fun! And if you come up with some fun and/or productive uses for the Siri Listener, let me know in the comments. Want more Siri tips? There’s a book for that.
Talking to Siri: Remote-controlling your Mac by voice with Siri Listener originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 27 Mar 2013 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Shanghai Daily reports that Apple is facing a lawsuit in China over Siri, with a company there claiming that Siri infringes upon its patent rights.
The Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People’s Court will hold a pre-hearing at 2pm today to let Apple and Shanghai Zhi Zhen Internet Technology Co Ltd exchange evidence. [...]
“Siri is very similar to Xiaoi, a chat robot system we have been developing since 2003,” said Mei Li, a spokeswoman of Shanghai Zhi Zhen which filed the lawsuit.
Mei said her company applied for patent rights for Xiaoi in 2004 in China and the patent right went into effect in 2006.
While the Xiaoi bot began life as a chat bot for MSN and similar networks, it has since migrated to a number of platforms including Android and iOS, and has evolved to look quite similar to Siri, although the iOS version of the app [App Store] uses a different style for the microphone icon and button.
AFP reports that Zhi Zhen, which has over 100 million users of Xiaoi, is seeking a halt to sales of infringing products, as well as reserving the right to seek compensation in the future.
“The company will ask Apple to stop manufacturing and selling products using its patent rights, once Apple’s infringement is confirmed,” Si Weijiang, a lawyer representing Zhizhen, told AFP.
“We don’t exclude the possibility of demanding compensation in the future,” he added.
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