Cortana Adds NFL Predictions

Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant introduced in Windows Phone 8.1, has had the ability to predict outcomes of some events. Most recently, she did a near-perfect job of predicting World Cup results.

In an announcement on September 3, Microsoft says they have added NFL to the list of events that Cortana can predict. The American football season starts on September 4, so it is timely. In order to use this feature, just ask Cortana: “Who will win, team A or team B?”

Cortana’s prediction feature is based on Bing’s prediction engine. Bing on the desktop has enabled such predictions for reality shows on TV like the singing competition The Voice before.

Microsoft has earlier explained how Bing Predicts works, and how it is able to predict with a high level of accuracy. It is natural that they use all the signals and the data they have, to take it to one of the most popular sporting events in the American calendar.

For NFL predictions, Walter Sun from the Bing Predicts team says:

For pro football, we model the respective strengths of the teams by examining outcomes from previous seasons including wins, losses, and the very rare tie outcome (two games since 2009), factoring in margin of victories, location of contest, playing surface and roof cover (or lack thereof), weather and temperature conditions, scoring by quarters, and multiple offensive and defensive statistics.  In addition to this prior model, we identify fans on Web and Social sites and track their sentiment to understand the aggregate wisdom of this expressive crowd.  This introduces data which statistics alone cannot capture, providing real-time adjustments which surprisingly can capture injury news and other substantive factors in win probabilities.

I understand these things are more fun than useful, and I am not sure anyone who gambles will rely on this to make any bets, but it is good to see Microsoft showing off their machine learning prowess through normal use cases like predictions of NFL games.

NFL Predictions in Cortana
NFL Predictions in Cortana

If you are on Windows Phone 8.1, you can start asking right away. The beauty of most of Cortana’s features is that they are all web services-enabled, which means it does not require any client or app updates. Once Microsoft turns that feature on from the server side, it is available for everyone to use.

Let us know how you like the feature in the comments below!

Google Now Might be Coming to iOS

Just a day after we learnt that Google Now is making its way to the Chrome browser and OS, Engadget is reporting that Google is also working on porting its Siri challenger to the iOS. Apparently, a short promo video featuring Google Now for iOS appeared yesterday on YouTube. The clip was quickly pulled down, but not before several enterprising viewers managed to save a copy. Here’s one of the many such copies currently available on YouTube.

While we can not vouch for the veracity of the video, it does look pretty convincing. Even the voice actor seems to be the same as the original Google Now announcement video. Due to restrictions imposed by Apple, Google will not be able to integrate its personal assistant into the system in a manner Siri is on the iOS. Instead, Google Now will live inside the Google Search app, which already features voice recognition. A quick swipe up from the main screen will bring up the Google Now interface.

The big question is how many iOS users, who already have the charming and cute Siri, will find a need for Google Now. Google’s personal assistant app does have its own set of advantages including the ability to offer neat nuggets of information pre-emptively through several pre-defined cards. It might also be compatible with a wider range of iOS devices than Siri, which only supports iOS 5 and later. However, Google will not be able to offer the deep system level integration that Siri features. That being said, there is clearly a segment of iPhone users that want Google Now, as evident from the popularity of the NowNow mod for jailbroken iPhones.

Google Now Coming to Chrome Browser and OS

François Beaufort, a Google Chrome user from France, has spotted signs of impending arrival of Google Now in the Chrome browser. In the latest build of Chromium, the Google Now component extension can be enabled from chrome://flags. Before you get too excited, it’s worth pointing out that ordinary folks can’t play with it yet, since the extension requires Google Now server URL, which is yet to be uncovered.

Google Now is a personal assistant built on top of Google Search that uses natural language processing to answer questions. Additionally, it also pulls information from various Google services to highlight information it believes might be useful for the user. It was first introduced in Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), and has since then been updated several times by Google.

Google-Now-Chrome-Browser-OS

I am not convinced about the utility of Google Now as just a Chrome browser extension, but it does make some sense for Chrome OS, in which everything is done from the browser. In fact, it’s very much possible that Google might be planning to add new cards to Google Now to make it more appealing for desktop users. For now, it appears that Google Now will be available only on Chrome browser for Windows, and Chrome OS.

Google Airs A New Google Now Ad

Today, Google has aired a new ad that features Google Now. This ad shows a little girl telling her dad to ask his smartphone, which looks to be a Nexus 4, about his flight status. When he checks, he is told that his flight is cancelled and then goes out to play with his daughter in the snow; hence, this ad. You can watch ad in the above video.

The latest ad shows that the Google is still trying to push the family aspect of its products. We’ve seen the company push this aspect before in its Nexus 7 and Nexus 4 commercials earlier. Google’s Nexus 7 ad focuses in on a father and son on a camping trip while the Nexus 4 commercial shows a father and son on a Google Hangout.

Personally, I’m getting a bit tired of these advertisements and think that Google may want to expand its horizons to grab the attention of other markets. However, I do feel that Google’s latest round of commercials does a good job of showing users the features of its products instead of throwing product and software specs into their faces.

Source: TalkAndroid

Google Now Gets An Update – Brings A Widget, And A Couple Of New Cards

Google today released a new update for Google Search on the Play Store for Android 4.1+ devices. The new update brings with it a handy lock screen and desktop widget for quick access to Google Now cards, a slightly re-designed Google Now weather card, and a couple of new cards.

Using Zillow, Google Now will automatically show you the prices of real estate nearby along with more information about a specific listing. Another new card is the Movies card that now shows you the ratings of the movie from Rotten Tomatoes. Also, if you buy the tickets from Fandango, the Movies card will automatically pop-up the ticket when you arrive at the movie hall.

Lastly, with this update Google has also added the ability to display the latest Google Doodle instead of the usual Google Now cover page for your city.

The official change-log is below -:

– Google Now widget for home screen or lock screen
– Movie passes from Fandango
– Movies now includes ratings from Rotten Tomatoes
– Real estate listings from Zillow when in the market for a home
– Music button when a song is playing in voice mode (US only)
– Support for US college sports

The widget is definitely a bit clunky but should come in useful for quick access to the Google Now cards. The addition of US college sports to the Sports card will also be appreciated by a lot of sports lover in the United States.

New Nexus 4 Ad From Google Shows The Power Of Google Now

Google has shown off the power of Google Now in its latest advertisement for the Nexus 4. The commercial was aired during the Grammy’s thus garnering a lot of eye-balls.

While the Nexus 4 should have been the highlight of the ad, it is Google Now that steals the spotlight with its smartness. Below is the full 1-minute video of the advertisement -:

With the Nexus 4 back in stock in Play Store of different regions of the world, Google could not have found a much better time to show the Nexus 4 advert.

Google Search/Now Updated — Now Launch Apps, Track Packages, Schedule Meetings And more

Biggest advantage of de-coupling core OS apps from the Android OS itself? You get updates instantly. With Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, Google enhanced Google Now with more features including the ability to notify you about hotel or restaurant confirmations and reservations and more. The best part? The update is already live in the Play store.

Since Google Now/Search is not a part of the core Android OS, Google can easily update it without waiting for OEMs to update their Android devices to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Below is the full change-log of the update -:

What’s in this version:
For Android 4.1+ (Jelly Bean), Google Search is faster plus:
– Google Now works with Gmail (English only)
– Flights
– Restaurant reservations
– Hotel confirmations
– Events
– Packages
– New Now cards: nearby attractions & photo spots, movies opening in theaters, concerts & more
– New voice actions: launch apps, schedule meetings & check when your next appointment is
Google Now puts you in control: at any time, adjust or turn off individual Now cards within Settings.

Keep in mind that the update is only for Android 4.1.x Jelly Bean running Android devices, and not Ice Cream Sandwich.

Google To Hold An Android Event On October 29th

Today, Google has sent out press invites for an Android related event, which the company is going to hold on October 29th in NYC at 10AM.

The invite from Google contains a picture of Google Now welcome screen, with the line “The playground is open” written in the search bar. It might be possible that Google is opening up the Nexus program for other Android OEMs? Or maybe the company will work on adding AOSP support for all the existing high-end Android devices from various OEMs?

Google will also be unveiling a new Nexus handset at the event, manufactured by LG this time. The leaks and rumors suggest that the Nexus handset from LG will be known as the Nexus 4, and will pack a quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Krait processor, Adreno 320 GPU, 2GB of RAM, a 8MP camera, and a 4.7-inch IPS HD display. The new Nexus handset will also be accompanied by a new Android version, 4.2 in all probability, and hopefully, a 32GB variant of the Nexus 7.

For all unlucky souls like us, Google will also be live streaming the event at youtube.com/Android.

Microsoft is also holding an event on October 29th where it will be unveiling Windows Phone 8.

Google Now For Android Gets An Update — Now Smarter Than Before!

Last night, Google released a new update for the Google Search app in the Play Store. The new update mainly brings enhancements to the Google Now functionality with support for Movies, Public Alerts, the ability to select your favorite sports team and finally, support for Korean language.

With the new Movies feature, Google Now will automatically notify users of the timings of the movies playing in a nearby movie hall. The Public Alerts feature will automatically notify users of any emergency such as earthquakes or Tsunamis.

Lastly, post the update, users can select their favorite Sports team from the Google Now settings menu. This will then allow Google Now to notify you of all the upcoming matches and results of existing matches of your favorite sports team. As of now, the list of teams are limited to Soccer, Baseball and Football. The update is already live in the Google Play Store, and can be downloaded for free.

Oh! Google also released an update for Google Maps in the Play Store that brings turn-by-turn biking navigation to the app.

Motorola XOOM Wi-Fi Edition Tastes Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

After pushing Jelly Bean to AOSP, and releasing the OTA updates for the Galaxy Nexus and the Nexus S, Google has started rolling out the update for the first ever ‘true’ Android tablet, the Motorola XOOM. Before Verizon owners of the XOOM, if any, get excited please note that the update is only for the Wi-Fi variant of the tablet.

Apart from the Nexus 7, the Motorola XOOM is now the only tablet that runs on Jelly Bean. The new version of Android should bring with it a nice performance boost, all thanks to ‘Project Butter’. Other notable changes in Jelly Bean include an enhanced keyboard with next-word prediction, a new search experience, Google Now, some UI tweaks, improved notification bar with the ability to expand them, updated camera and gallery app with ‘film-roll’, off-line voice typing and much more.

Google has already start rolling out the update since late-Wednesday/early-Thursday, so chances are the OTA update should already be available for your XOOM. If not, sit tight and keep pressing that ‘Check for update’ option under ‘About Device’.