Voice Enable System Settings with Q Actions 1.3.3!

By | App Actions, Digital Assistants, News, Voice Search | No Comments

Somewhere in the Android Settings lies the option for you turn on Bluetooth, turn off Wifi, and change sound preferences. These options are usually buried deep under menus and sub-menus. Discoverability is an issue and navigating to the options usually means multiple taps within the Settings app. Yes, there’s a search bar within the Settings app, but it’s clunky, requires typing and only returns exact matches. Some of these options are accessible through the quick settings bar, but discovery and navigation issues still exist. 

In the latest release, simply tell Q Actions what System Settings you want to change. Q Actions can now control your Bluetooth, Wifi, music session, and sound settings through voice.

Configure your Settings:

  • “turn on/off bluetooth”
  • “turn wifi on/off”

Control your music:

  • “play next song”
  • “pause music”
  • “resume my music”

Toggle your sound settings:

  • “enable do not disturb”
  • “mute ringer”
  • “increase the volume”
  • “put my phone on vibrate”

In addition to placing calls to your Contacts, Q Actions helps you manage Contacts via voice. Easily add a recent caller as a contact in your phonebook or share a friend’s contact info with simple commands. If you have your contact’s address in your Contacts, you can also get directions to the address using your favorite navigation app.

Place calls to Contacts:

  • “call Jason Chen
  • “dial Mario on speaker”

Manage and share your Contacts:

  • “save recent number as Mark Johnson
  • “edit Helen’s contact information“
  • “share contact info of Daniel Phan
  • “view last incoming call”

Bridge the gap between your Contacts and navigation apps:

  • “take me to Rob’s apartment”
  • “how do I get to Mike’s house?”

Unlock your phone’s potential with voice! Q Actions is now available on Google Play.

Ever-growing index of App Actions

The largest mobile App Action index in the world!

By | App Actions, Digital Assistants, Voice Search | No Comments

You often hear the phrase “Going from 0 to 1” when it comes to the accomplishment of reaching a first milestone – an initial product release, the first user, the first partner, the first sale.   Here at Aiqudo, I believe our “0 to 1” moment occurred at the end of the summer in 2017 when we reached our aspirational goal of on-boarding a total of 1000 Actions. It was a special milestone for us as we had built an impressive library of actions across a broad category of apps, using simple software tools, in a relatively short time, with only a handful of devs and interns.  For comparison, we were only 5 months in operation and already had one tenth the number of actions as that “premier bookseller in the cloud” company. These were not actions for games and trivia – these were high utility actions in mobile apps that were not available in other voice platforms. On top of that, we did it all without a single app developer’s help – no APIs required. That’s right, no outside help!

So how were we able to accomplish this? Quite simply, we took the information we knew about Android and Android apps and built a set of tools and techniques that allowed us to reach specific app states or execute app functions.  Our initial approach provided simple record and replay mechanics allowing us to reach virtually any app state that could be reached by the user. Consequently, actions such as showing a boarding pass for an upcoming flight, locating nearby friends through social media or sending a message could be built, tested, and deployed in a matter of minutes with absolutely no programming involved!   But we haven’t stopped there. We also incorporate app-specific and system-level intents whenever possible, providing even more flexibility to the action on-boarding process and our growing library of actions including those that control Alarms, Calendar, Contacts, Email, Camera, Messaging and Phone to name a few. With the recent addition of system level actions, we now offer a catalog of very useful actions for controlling various mobile device settings such as audio controls, display orientation and brightness, wifi, bluetooth,  flash and speaker volume.

Our actions on-boarding process and global actions library solves the action discovery problem that we described in an earlier post. We do the heavy lifting, so all you need to say is show my actions”, or “show my actions for Facebook” and get going! And you don’t need to register your credentials to invoke your personal actions.

Today our action library is ~4000 strong and supports 7 languages across 12 locales.  Not bad for a company less than a year and a half old! We haven’t fully opened up the spigot either! 

Of course, all of this would not be possible without the hard work of the Aiqudo on-boarding team whose job, among other things, is to create and maintain Actions for our reference Q Actions app as well as our partner integrations.   The team continues to add new and interesting actions to the Aiqudo Action library and optimize and re-onboard actions as needed to maintain a high quality of service.

Check back with us for a follow-on post where we’ll discuss how our team maintains actions through automated testing.

Automatically personalized action recipes.

Automate your day with Action Recipes in Q Actions 1.3.2!

By | Action Recipes, App Actions, Digital Assistants, News | No Comments

Finding yourself routinely using the same set of actions as you commute to work or prepare for your workout session? Action Recipes string together your favorite actions to help you get through the day. With Action Recipes, you can run multiple actions from the apps you use with simple voice commands.

Hands on the steering wheel as you start your daily commute to work?

“start my morning commute”

  • Start streaming NPR as Google Maps navigates you through the best route to work

Earbuds on, phone stowed, as you get ready for your routine run around the neighborhood or nearby trail?

“start my workout”

  • Play your favorite tracks on Spotify, Pandora, or Google Play Music as MapMyRun, Mi Fit or Google Fit logs your workout session

Hands tied as you gather your carry-ons and prepare to board the plane?

“ready to board”

  • Send someone a quick message through SMS, WhatsApp, or WeChat as United, American Airlines, Alaska, or Delta brings up your boarding pass

These Action Recipes are already created for your convenience. Just grab the latest version of Q Actions from the Google Play Store and swipe left until you reach the My Action Recipes page to preview your supported Action Recipes. More interesting recipes will just start surfacing here as they come online.

Action Recipes are automatically personalized for you – the right actions are executed based on the apps you use for these tasks. We are working on further controls and customizability.

App Store Icon

We would love to hear your feedback on these Action Recipes. Please let us know what you think!

Q Actions power Moto Voice

Q Actions Platform now powers App Actions in Moto Voice. #HelloMoto

By | App Actions, Digital Assistants, Machine Learning, Voice | No Comments

Our first official day at Aiqudo was in April, 2017.  One year later, we are excited to announce that our Q Actions platform is now live and powering app actions in Moto Voice. The experience is being rolled out, as we speak, to millions of users using Motorola phones in 7 languages in 12 markets, with more to come. Watch the coverage of the always on voice capabilities during Motorola’s recent launch event. 

Most of the app actions we power are not currently available in other digital assistant platforms – actions in apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, Wechat, Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, Waze, to mention a few.  And we just got started …

On supported Motorola phones, you just say “Hello Moto” and issue simple commands – hands free.

Our solution provides high utility to users. You can get things done instantly within your favo(u)rite apps, privately and without having to register credentials. Check out the Voice-to-Action™ experience in the video below:

We’ve addressed several hard technical problems, including:

  • Command matching for simple, intuitive commands in multiple languages: You speak naturally – no need to learn a specific syntax. A single command can provide matching actions from multiple apps, providing user choice.
  • Action execution of personal app actions:  We execute actions in your favo(u)rite apps, including your private actions, without requiring registration or login credentials. We use several techniques for action execution, and can even execute tasks consisting of multiple actions in different apps.
  • Action on boarding operations: We support actions in multiple versions of apps simultaneously – in multiple locales. Our on boarding process takes minutes, does not mandate APIs, coding or developer engagement, enabling rapid scale. Our flexible Machine Learning systems are trained incrementally with simple exemplary commands.

We will be writing more about our contributions in these areas over the next few weeks.

For the most powerful, fully hands free experience, get a new phone with always on Moto Voice, and say “Hello Moto”!

Or, for other Android phones, you can download the Q Actions app from the Play Store.

Why Apps?

By | App Actions, Digital Assistants, Voice | No Comments

With all the hype around chatbots, skills, and other forms of custom voice UX, we’re often asked why we chose mobile apps as the first target domain for Q Actions – our voice AI platform.

The short answer is: apps are where the utility is – consumers spent a trillion hours using mobile apps last year. With voice, all those familiar apps are even easier to use.

We believe there is a critical gap in the voice assistant marketplace. The ideal assistant MUST:

  • Be ubiquitous – not just available in the kitchen or living room
  • Provide high utility – help us do useful things we do every day
  • Work intuitively – let users speak naturally, without the need to learn new syntax
  • Offer user choice – across platforms, applications and devices
  • Be private and secure – on device where possible

Mobile apps remain the best way to achieve these goals. Your phone is always with you, and mobile apps provide high utility for you wherever you are.

Venturebeat ran a survey last year asking 1000 people “Which of these (app, mobile website, or chatbot) would you prefer to use in order to engage with a brand?” There was a clear winner. Apps! It’s particularly interesting because these 1000 respondents were self-described “chatbot users”.

Users prefer Apps

Users prefer to use Apps

 

Are we at “Peak App” and does it even matter?

We often hear the concept of “Peak App”, which describes a general state of app fatigue. In this narrative, people already have all the apps they need, so they no longer download new apps. And for developers, this peak means creating new apps is no longer exciting, and breaking through as a new app is increasingly rare, so maybe develop a skill or a chatbot for one of the closed platforms and see how that goes (aka starting over with your customers).  

Global app download rates defy the idea of “Peak App”. We’ve seen 60% growth over the past three years, and this trend continues in 2018, with app downloads (and revenue) breaking records yet again in Q1.

app downloads

App Downloads continue to grow

 

People continue to spend more money in the app economy. Both iOS and Google Play saw 20% year-over-year growth in worldwide consumer spend in Q4 2017. The total app spend in 2017 was $17 billion.

App Spend

App Spend continues to grow

As noted by Mary Meeker in her 2017 Internet Trends report, Internet Usage (Engagement) continues to grow (+4% Y/Y), with mobile >3 Hours / Day per User vs. <1 Five Years Ago, USA

Mobile continues to dominate time spent

 

Peak is a moot point anyway, because…

People use 30 to 40 apps, and still have another 50+ apps installed on their phone.

More apps can be used

Many app are usable, but out of sight.

 

We want to bring easy-to-use voice AI to the apps people use, while also helping them make use of those apps installed but not used. Out of sight is out of mind, but if you could just ask, and if the right action in the right app is executed, you’re more likely to use those installed apps. Further, if I don’t have to know which app can execute my command, I can just say what I want and our Q Actions platform will:

  • Understand what you intend to do
  • Determine which apps can get it done
  • Execute the action using the most relevant app installed on your phone

It’s easier, more natural, and … faster! It reduces time to action.

Unlocking Utility

This approach unlocks the high utility of mobile apps by putting the effort of app discovery on the voice AI platform, not the consumer.

ComScore’s “2017 U.S. Mobile App Report” illustrates that many people have apps they consider “Hidden Gems”. These are gems because they are helpful and offer high utility when needed, but are not in the top 25 most used apps. We help people make use of these gems by simply issuing natural voice commands.

Hidden Gems

Hidden gems : apps that are not head apps, but provide huge utility

 

Most of these “hidden gems”, along with millions more – photo apps, payment apps, airline apps, etc. are just not available in existing voice platforms. Alexa Skills offer limited utility compared to mobile apps already installed on your phone.

Critical Gaps In The Big Voice Platforms

The big voice platforms don’t currently support many of the most popular, helpful, and engaging mobile apps. Here’s a look at top mobile apps vs apps currently supported through an Alexa Skill.

Apps on Assistants

Many popular apps are not available on Alexa or Google Assistant

 

Current voice platforms don’t support enough useful actions. Even those apps supported by Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, Siri, et al, often limit voice support to a small number of app functions. For example, with Alexa, I can order a Lyft, but I can’t schedule one, or look at my ride history. Voice should make using these familiar apps easier, not require you to remember what Lyft can do with Alexa.

Don’t Reinvent The Wheel

Current voice platforms require new, custom development, ongoing maintenance and support. Why would a developer reinvent the wheel just to offer voice support to their customers, expanding their maintenance and support requirements in the process?

Voice enabling your existing app gets developers and brands started on capturing customer voice search commands, a valuable asset that should be protected from competitors, some of which operate digital platforms eager to disintermediate brands from their customers.

Apps Are Useful, Personal, Private, and Secure

A compelling consumer voice experience is our goal, and apps are a great starting point. Further, because you already trust the apps you use, and we don’t require registration or any user credentials, we execute the right actions for you privately.  We can enable personal actions, like playing your personal playlists, viewing your photos, sending payments to friends, and messaging family – quickly and securely.

Through our Q Action Kit (developer SDK) or our Q Actions App, Aiqudo’s action intent AI connects voice computing to the mobile app ecosystem, helping you take action quickly and easily, wherever you go.