If there has ever been an example of how Chinese innovation can outdo Apple, Baidu’s open voice platform just might be the clincher. While many have touted the importance of the Siri platform as an innovative new way to text and gather information, Apple has so far failed to instill a sense of loyalty in the product, nor has the accuracy of its software been up to par. This article by CNET for instance, says that nearly 38% of Siri requests fail to produce the intended response.
How can China be a factor in this situation? For one thing, the software industry is a powerful force. China’s hibernating giants are positioning themselves for an early winter in Silicon Valley, and Baidu for one is making some interesting strides.
In China, voice recognition software has only begun to emerge, and Apple has said that Siri will soon include full Chinese language support, but there is reason to doubt their abilities on this matter. The Cupertino company is already running into issues related to inaccurate App Store search results in Chinese, provoking a variety of complaints from users last week. This could all change with Baidu’s new voice API.
As software developers we are always limited to what the interface of the hardware allows us to do. Whenever there is an advance in what can be done, a great deal of innovation follows. We take a lot of these advances for granted now, but things like the keyboard, the mouse, color monitors – and more recently, the touch screen smart phone, allow us to create innovative new products. Angry Birds would just not have been the same without the touch interface. Although voice recognition has been around for a long time, the cost of developing voice recognition applications has been prohibitive, not to mention that the results are sometimes rather imprecise. By creating an open voice platform, and thereby making the technology cheaper and more accessible to developers, Baidu might just help bring about another revolution in interface design.
Nils Pihl, Engagement Design Specialist at Mention LLC
Apple is not performing the way it used to, leaving room for Chinese innovators to take the mantle. This is unprecedented. Given that the developer environment in China is flourishing, an open voice platform will provide companies and startups with significant fodder for tweaking and revamping. Even Google has yet to join this market with its Google Assistant software, and there is no saying how far they will get given their politics with the Chinese government. Baidu has caught on to something here that just might be a breakthrough.
Is Baidu stepping into the role of a popularizer, a position traditionally associated with Apple?
Original source: 36KR