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article imageApple says sorry, but Amazon dominates voice assistant market

By Tim Sandle     Aug 31, 2019 in Technology
There are several news items relating to voice assistants, from the dominance of Baidu and Amazon being confirmed; with the BBC launching its own voice assistant; and Apple apologizing over Siri's covert spying.
Voice assistants and smart speakers continue to grow in popularity and some technology futurists are predicting that voice commands will be the future in terms of how we elect to interact with machines. There's some distance to go, however, and recently voice assistants have been wrapped up in concerns about privacy. We look at three recent developments in the voice assistant space.
Baidu and Amazon dominate voice assistant market
Chinese technology firm Baidu and Amazon have a combined 43 percent share of the global smart-speaker market, in relation to data compiled for the second quarter of 2019. This is based on a new report from market analysts Canalys.
The analysis also reveals that the global voice assistant market grew by over 55 percent, and that over 26 million units were shipped during the second quarter of 2019 alone. Amazon has over 25 percent of the market, with Baidu at just over 17 percent and Google narrowly behind the Chinese firm, at around 16 percent.
Beeb - the BBC's new voice assistant
In related voice assistant news, the BBC is to release a new digital voice assistant. The voice assistant could be named 'Beeb' (which is one of the affectionate names given to the U.K.'s state broadcaster). The aim is for the voice assistant to be built into the BBC’s website and iPlayer app, instead of being a standalone Alexa-style device.
One area of focused development has been with the ability to recognize regional U.K. accents, something which many U.S. manufactured voice assistants struggle with. BBC staff from around the U.K. have come forward to help train the algorithm to respond to different accents. It is estimated that 20 percent of British households currently use voice assistants.
Apple says sorry
Apple has released a statement indicating it is no longer storing audio recordings of customer interactions with Siri. At the same time the technology giant has apologized for the practice. Apple had been using contractors to listen into the conversations with customers, although it formally suspended the program during July following a spate of complaints.
However, Apple may reinstate the 'listening in' practice during the autumn, with users given greater control over their privacy, Amazon is continuing to listen in, although the company has said that users opt out of human reviews of what Alexa is listening to.
More about voice assistant, smart speaker, Amazon, Google, Alexa
 
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