Ben Taft Showing off Siri Eyes-Free Integration in Chevy Sonic

At South by Southwest this year, we had a chance to see tons of awesome new technology. One piece that really stood out was Chevrolet’s Siri Eyes-Free Integration in the the cheapest cars in Chevy’s lineup, the base models of the Spark (MSRP $12,185) and the Sonic (MSRP $14,185). With touchscreens built right into the dash, app support including Pandora, TuneIn radio, and a $49 add-on turn-by-turn navigation system, these cars are really pushing the limits of what a car company can offer without expensive add-ons. But the most exciting feature is that these models also have Siri built right into the dash. By pressing and holding a button on the steering wheel, the car will pull up Siri on your iPhone, who can take dictations, send and read text messages, create reminders and more, all without you taking your eyes from the road.

In this fun demo, Ben Taft, the Lead Connected Customer Specialist at GM, asks Siri to call his mom. In typical Siri fashion, however, this doesn’t go exactly as planned. Check out the video above to see what happens!

VIDEO: New Apple iPhone 4S Ad Featuring Martin Scorsese Talking to Siri

Apple’s latest television ad for everyone’s favorite iPhone 4S feature, Siri, just hit YouTube a few minutes ago. In it, Scorsese takes a cab ride in NYC where he changes his schedule on the fly, gets a live traffic report, and much like the other celebrity ads Apple has been running lately, jokes around with Siri.

While many commentators were turned off by the ads and Apple’s attempt to leverage some celebrity star power to boost awareness of Siri, reporting data from Ace Metrix shows that they’ve been doing quite well. While the shortened clips of Scorsese using Siri aren’t exactly realistic portrayals (no wait time, for one, and Siri seems to understand him perfectly every time), how can you deny the charm of the Oscar-winning Director joking around with his phone?

What do you think? Are these new Apple ads a hit or a miss? Leave a comment below and we’ll respond!

PODCAST: Combine Siri with @Evernote and Max Out Your iPhone’s Capabilities

On today’s episode of the Small Biz Go Mobile podcast for AT&T, I teach you how to combine Apple’s digital assistant Siri with one of my favorite mobile apps, Evernote. I’m a serious Evernote user, but sometimes I don’t want to have to type out what I’m thinking, I just want to dictate it! So what I do is use Siri to take down my thoughts and automatically email them to my Evernote email address. Want to know how to set this up for yourself? Head on over to AT&T’s Small Business site and listen to my lastest podcast.

A digital assistant in your car: Siri coming to BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Audi, Toyota, Chrystler, Honda and Jaguar in 12 months or less

Apple’s announcements at the WWDC keynote today are off the chain! This just in: Siri is going to start being integrated into cars so you can use your digital assistant straight from your iPhone without taking your hands off the wheel! Apple today is announcing a huge number of car manufacturers who will be integrating Siri this year, including BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Audi, Toyota, Chrystler, Honda and Jaguar! Not only that, but this integration will be happening in “12 months or less” according to Apple, meaning that we’ll start seeing Siri integration in automobiles as early as this fall!

Along with that announcement, Siri is getting a ton of new features in the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 6, including:

– Sports knowledge (scores and info about players. She can now answer the question, “Who’s taller, Kobe or Lebron?” for instance)
– OpenTable reservations so you can book dinner at a restaurant hands-free
– Rotten Tomatoes integration for movie times, trailers, and more!

The announcements at WWDC are coming fast, so stay tuned to this space for the latest!

Everything You Need to Know About The New iPad

UPDATE: Don’t take our word for it, you can now watch today’s Apple event streaming on their website.

Tim Cook just left the stage from Apple’s iPad event in California, where he and his team brought us the latest Apple announcement, presumably including “the new iPad” (yes, that’s it’s full name!). It hits stores next week, on Friday March 16th and this page has all of the news you need to know about today’s announcement.

A Post-PC World

It’s no surprise that Tim Cook is leading off this event with a discussion involving one of Apple’s favorite terms, “post PC.” We’re all doing more on our iPads and iPhone, so it’s no surprise that these post PC devices (plus the iPod) make up 76% of Apple’s revenue.

iOS is the Key

The reason for Apple’s success with post-PC devices? iOS. Right now there are 315 million iOS devices in the world, 62 million of those sold in the last quarter of 2011 alone. At the forefront of this innovation in the mobile OS, is Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” that comes with every iPhone 4S. Today, Cook is announcing that Siri now speaks Japanese and she’s coming to Japan today along with iOS 5.1. Amongst other fixes, iOS 5.1 brings fixes to battery life on iPhone and iPad and is available over-the-air for download right now.

A New Apple TV

Turns out the rumors were true! Apple is announcing a new Apple TV that supports 1080p HD video. As a result, they’re re-releasing all of their movies in this higher-def format (and it’s a free download for anything you’ve already purchased!). A new Apple Genius will work just like on your iTunes and suggest movies and television shows based on your interests. You can even store them in the cloud—iCloud is being expanded to cover music AND movies now. Your photo stream syncs effortlessly to your Apple TV now too – take a picture on your iPhone 4S, and instantly show it off to your friends on your big-screen TV in HD! It still costs just $99, a great price for what you get! Combine that with the amazing AirPlay mirroring features that the Apple TV provides, and this looks to be an exciting update to the device. Pre-orders start today and the new Apple TV is available March 16th.

iPad outselling the competition

If you need proof that post-PC devices like the iPad are taking over computing, check out this fact: Apple sold more iPad’s last quarter than HP sold PCs.

There’s no doubt as to the direction of the computing industry right now, and Apple is unquestionably at the forefront in terms of sales.

What you’ve been waiting for: introducing the new iPad

Here are the features Apple is including in the new iPad:

Retina Display. Much as everyone predicted, the new iPad will have quadruple the resolution of the original, with a retina display screen at 2048×1536. That’s 3.1 million pixels on the screen, or 1 million more pixels than 1920×1080, the resolution of even a 60″ HD TV. It translates to 264 pixels per inch, an amazing pixel density. All this means is that the screen is going to look amazing on the new iPad, and this is going to be a huge boon to any apps that work with photos and video as well as text. If you used an iPhone before they went retina with the iPhone 4, you know that this isn’t just a new feature on a list but a HUGE CHANGE that will really impact how you’re able to work on the device.

It’s not just the density of the display though. The new iPad also offers a much better screen, with 44% greater color saturation. Not only will you never have to see a dreaded pixel again, but colors in images will “pop” in a way never before seen on a tablet device.

iPad 2 (left) vs. the new iPad (right) – 44% greater color saturation

A5X Processor with Quad-Core Graphics. Designed for the retina display, the new iPad is “four times as fast” as nVidia’s Tegra 3. A dual-core processor with quad-core graphics, the chip has to be way more powerful than what’s in the iPad 2 since it’s pushing 4x the number of pixels!

While not some massive upgrade to quad-core as some were hoping for, if the A5X can provide an experience as snappy as the current A5 can in the iPad 2 while simultaneously pushing 3.1 million Retina-enhanced pixels, you shouldn’t hear a single complain that the new iPad is in any way under-powered.

Massively improved iSight cameras. The cameras on the iPad 2 worked, but they were kinda a joke for any real photo or video applications. The back side camera took images you’d expect from a mid 90’s digicam, and the front-facing camera was even worse. The new iPad is packing in an iSight-branded camera, meaning that this 5-megapixel rear-facing camera boasts illumiation, a 5-element lens, an IR filter, and 1080P video recording—in other words, it’s high enough quality that you’ll actually feel comfortable using it. No word yet on whether or not you’ll still feel awkward holding up your iPad, though. Overall, it seems like everything on the new iPad is going HD in a big way.

Voice dictation. The new iPad will let you dictate in US English, British, Australian, French, German and Japanese. A new button on the software keyboard will let you talk to your iPad and have your text automatically inserted into your email or Evernote documents.

For the mobile professional who can’t always stop and type (and even then, typing on the iPad without a physical keyboard isn’t the easiest thing to do) this will make a huge difference in terms of how you use your new iPad.

4G LTE and Hotspot. Aside from the Retina display, this is the feature that got the most applause from the audience and for good reason. If you read my recent article about how fast 4G LTE is on AT&T, you’ll know why it’s exciting that the new iPad is an LTE device. 4G LTE isn’t just fast for mobile, it compares well and is often faster than your Internet at home!

The iPad will have 4G LTE on both AT&T and Verizon for a theoretical maximum of 73 megabits per second—huge news for these carriers. Unfortunately, these will be separate devices thanks to the different bands these carriers use. You’ll have to choose either the Verizon or the AT&T iPad 4G LTE. However, they will both work anywhere in the world with 3G as they carry the most wireless antennas ever put in a mobile device.

One cool new feature they’re adding is that the iPad can now serve as a mobile hotspot, allowing you to share it’s internet access with a number of devices. Since the iPad doesn’t come with any kind of contract, this could be a huge new feature for the mobile professional. Imagine having the power of the new iPad by your side at all times, but also the ability to pass along a 4G LTE signal to your laptop no matter where you are. All that on a month-to-month plan from your carrier of choice.

Same battery life and price. Thankfully, no surprises here. The 10 hour battery life and $499 introductory price will be staying the same. Since 4G LTE is a huge battery hog, that’ll knock you down to 9 hours, which really isn’t too bad.

Since a few reports have mentioned that the new iPad is a little bit thicker (9.4mm) and a little bit heavier (1.4lbs) than the iPad 2, this makes a lot of sense. Clearly, Apple had to expand the battery capacity a bit to accomodate the faster processor and the LTE chipsets inside the new iPad.


What would an Apple iPad announcement be without some new apps? The iWork suite is getting a full upgrade to take advantage of the faster processor and retina graphics, with Keynote, Pages and Numbers all updated in the app store today. With features like stunning new 3D charts, and new builds and transitions, the new versions of Apple’s suite will really show off the retina display on the new iPad. All three apps still sell for the low cost of just $9.99, and if you already own them you’ll be getting these updates for free from the app store today.

Garageband is getting iCloud support, easy sharing, a note editor and smart strings, to add a whole orchestra to your performance and then later edit individual notes.But Jam Session is the most exciting feature that lets 4 users on iPads play together at the same time and create original compositions over Wi-Fi on the iPad. Again, Garageband still costs just 4.99 and these updates are free for everyone who already owns it.

iMovie is getting a huge boost and a free update for the $4.99 app. Now there are some new features, including advanced editing tools, storyboards, and beautiful transitions. Combined with that 1080p camera, the new iPad should prove to be a great platform for making AND editing videos!

A huge new app release too – iPhoto for iPad. New gestures, new effects, multi-touch editing, and with iCloud you can effortlessly beam photos from iPhone to iPad to desktop and back. With editing support for images up to 19 megapixels, ways to automatically find images similar to the one you’re looking at, views that only show you flagged photos that you like, and easy share support to Flickr, Twitter and more, this looks to be a hot new app.

The biggest new feature is probably that all of these new editing features are non-destructive. Meaning, no matter how many times you crop or add filters, your original image is always there and can be recovered easily. This is just like ProTools for audio or Final Cut for video on the Mac. A huge feature for pro users looking to edit photos on the go.

Full Pricing and the iPad 2

As a final note, Apple’s going to keep selling the iPad 2 but at a $100 discount. The 16GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi now costs $399, and the 3G-enabled version is going for $529. An amazing deal on some great tech, and if you don’t need the absolute latest it’s even cheaper to take your business mobile (and still take advantage of all these amazing new apps) at a lower cost. The iPad 2 is a great tablet, and this price cut should help get it into a lot more hands.

Cluzee? It’s snoozy.

Since the debut of Siri, the voice-controlled virtual assistant included with the iPhone 4S, there has been a race to offer the same capability on Android devices.  The latest attempt, Cluzee, seems to be creating buzz as an app that might equal (or even surpass) Siri’s offerings.  However, can Cluzee really surpass Apple’s electronic Jeeves?

The buzz around Cluzee is due to the fact that it offers a few flashy features that Siri doesn’t, like providing driving suggestions for the locations of upcoming calendar appointments. Cluzee also provides the standard range of personal assistant magic tricks, including a list of “essentials”, “local search”, a “personal day planner”, “personal health planner”, and “personal radio”.   Read More

Cluzee app is a sign of Things to Come for Voice Assistants for Android

Android fans may not want to admit it, but many are lusting after more Siri-like functionality with their smartphone. Voice Actions is cool if you want to compose a text/email/IM, call somebody in your contact’s list, or do a Google search. But Voice Actions has nowhere near the resources Siri has when processing requests. I took the time to download the new Cluzee personal assistant app to see if it finally gives Android fans the ability to look weird in public talking to their phones more productivity from their smartphones.

It took me a while to download the app because I kept getting a “this app is incompatible with your device” error message (and no, I was not trying to download it on my iPhone). So I made sure my Droid Bionic running OS 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) had the right specs. While I was searching through the app’s info in the Android Market, I took a peek at the user reviews, and a number of them were logging complaints about force closes and/or not recognizing user’s voices, among other things. Read More

REVEALED: The Hardware-based Explanation for Why Siri is an iPhone 4S Exclusive

Ever since the iPhone 4S was released, fans of the Apple line of smartphones have been asking why their original iPhone 4 or even their 3GS (both of which run the latest iOS 5) doesn’t support Apple’s newest innovation which brings a personal assistant to your phone. After all, if the only differences in terms of upgrades between the iPhone 4 and the new 4S were incremental upgrades like an improved camera and the new world phone capabilities then what could possibly be preventing the iPhone 4 from running the software? Some clever engineers even hacked together a non-responsive version of Siri for the iPhone 4, although since Apple blocks any device except the iPhone 4S from communicating with their servers, it didn’t actually function.

So what is it that makes the iPhone 4S special? Turns out there’s another new piece of tech in the latest from our friends in Cupertino. Read More

Productivity Tip: Use Siri to Email Notes to Evernote

If you haven’t noticed from my last couple of entries, I’m a serious Evernote user. It’s starting to take the place of several services I use personally and professionally.

I was one of the suckers fanboys enthusiasts with an iPhone 4 who went out and got the iPhone 4S. One of the first things I did was mess around with Siri – the voice assistant that only (and by only I mean legitimately) available on the iPhone 4S.

I will admit that after a while, the Siri craze started to wear off. It’s cool to do voice to text, set reminders and calendar appointments with Siri, but the bulk of my mobile experience is using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. So it was cool to find tips on how to use Siri to send Tweets and Facebook updates using Siri.

Again, I’m a heavy Evernote user, so when I got a tip on how to use Siri to email notes to my account, I immediately tested to see how it works. It’s fairly simple too. Read More

iPhone 4S Gets Official – Reveals Several Productivity Features

If you’ve been living under a rock, then you don’t know that the iPhone 4S has been announced finally giving the tech industry a reason to talk about something else… that is until iPhone 5 rumors start to resurface again. That’s right, Apple only announced one device that looks identical to the current iPhone 4 but with a plethora of new features and enhancements under the hood.

If you’re debating whether or not to upgrade to the new iPhone 4S or keep the iPhone 4, here is a look at the new features that will certainly give your mobile productivity a boost. Read More