Voice-First News Roundup 6/10/19

Every week we bring you a selection of the most buzzworthy headlines on voice-first and related topics. Here's the news roundup for June 1-7, 2019.

Amazon held its 2019 re:MARS conference in Las Vegas last week. There was a large number of product and project announcements in the Voice-First front. They announced Alexa Conversations, a new AI-driven approach to natural dialogs through the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), both at re:MARS and via an Alexa Blogs post. This new tool for Alexa skill developers is intended to streamline development and make skills more easily discovered by users. Their announcement describes it as "a new deep learning-based approach that developers can use for creating natural voice experiences on Alexa with less effort, fewer lines of code, and less training data than before."

You can catch the re:MARS demo of Alexa Conversations here. (Venture Beat)

The reactions to the Alexa Conversations reveal were plentiful and positive,

“New features coming from Alexa Conversations represent an exciting new development for both developers and end users. This could help improve discoverability and usability while decreasing development work for third-party skill developers.” Ashish Shah, CTO Pulse Labs to Voicebot.ai.

For detailed discussion of Alexa Conversations and reactions across the Voice-First community, see "Alexa Conversations to Automate Elements of Skill Building Using AI and Make User Experiences More Natural While Boosting Discovery" by Bret Kinsella for Voicebot.ai


Amazon Unveils Novel Alexa Dialog Modeling for Natural, Cross-Skill Conversations Skill features will be accessible in a more natural way. Invoked intelligently and with linked context  from the conversation so far. (Alexa Blogs)

“We envision a world where customers will converse more naturally with Alexa: seamlessly transitioning between skills, asking questions, making choices, and speaking the same way they would with a friend, family member, or co-worker,” says Rohit Prasad, Alexa vice president and head scientist.
Alexa Dialog Modeling for Natural, Cross-Skill Conversations

Voicebot.ai has an excellent post "Amazon to Roll Out Cross Skill Goal Completion that Bundles Skills to Better Fulfill Alexa User Needs and is Not to Be Confused with Alexa Conversations" with a full analysis, demo video, and explanation on how this differs from Alexa Conversations.


In San Jose, Apple held its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The conference was full of product announcements, ranging from an all-new very-high-end Mac Pro, to Dark Mode for iOS, a new visual programming language, and to new watchOS 6 update that will bring its own dedicated App Store. Apple also unveiled new Voice-First features that combine conversational Siri Shortcuts built-in on iOS 13 with Siri Suggested Automation at WWDC19. The app will now come pre-installed on iOS devices as of iOS 13 instead of being offered only as a download from the App Store.Users are prompted to record their own voice command to launch a favorite app or take a specific action. Siri Shortcuts comes built-in on iOS 13, allows for more powerful shortcuts. (Tech Crunch)

Among the more impressive WWDC announcements was the new accessibility feature in MacOS and iOS: Voice Control. It allows users of Macs and iPhones to navigate the screen through voice. It features an impressive user interface that enumerates on-screen items allowing the user to call out the number in order to select the item and continue moving through the screen.


Now that Google I/O, WWDC, and re:MARS are done, CNet takes a look into how the top three voice assistants--Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri --look to evolve in 2019. Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri will get smarter this year. Here's how. (CNet)


VOICE Summit extends awards deadline until June 30. They're accepting applications in 12 different categories including Conversational design, e-Commerce and IoT devices. See Awards FAQ for full list of categories and submission guidelines.


Podcasts

In preparation for NEXT 2019, Dylan Zwick (Co-Founder and CPO, Pulse Labs) joined host Jamin Brazil for the pre-conference series podcast, which gives listeners an inside look into participants. You can catch Dylan and Jamin's discussion on how Voice-First technology and innovation are changing the market research industry.


Save the Date

Seattle: Join Women in Voice for their Summer Mixer, June 11 at 5:30, Hard Rock Cafe Seattle.

Chicago: Dylan Zwick, Pulse Labs CPO, will be speaking on "How to Integrate Voice in Your Total Customer Experience" at NEXT 2019, June 13-14 in Chicago. Register with the Promo Code: NEXTSPEAK to save $100.

LA and NYC: Bixby Developers will be hosting three developer sessions in Los Angeles (June 15th) and New York City (June 22nd). Apply!

Newark: Dylan Zwick, Pulse Labs Co-Founder CPO, will be a speaker and panelist at VOICE Summit, July 22-25 in Newark, NJ. He'll present: "VUI vs GUI: Profound Difference between Voice Design and Visual Design" on July 23 and will be part of the panel "What is Inclusive Voice Design?" July 25th. Use the code DZ83 for 15% off: http://bit.ly/2YxOpLp.

See full agenda at: https://www.voicesummit.ai/agenda

Cool Quote from re:MARS

"In eras of disruptive technologies, leadership matters" -Andrew Ng

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