IBM Adds Voice to MobileFirst for iOS

Through the release of its IBM Mobile First for iOS, IBM has combined enterprise mobile apps with IBM Watson and a broad set of conversational capabilities.

IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps, as well as custom-built iOS apps from IBM, can now embed a variety of Watson APIs. With Watson-enabled speech interaction, for example, professionals can now control IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps with their voice.

IBM Natural Language Processing, Watson Conversation, and other Watson APIs have been optimized to work with the new iOS 10 speech framework. The combination of Watson, iOS, and IBM services allows the apps to support conversational interaction.

"Apple and IBM set out more than two years ago to help define the enterprise mobility market, ensuring that professionals could finally enjoy at work the same experience they'd come to expect as consumers. We are taking that to a whole new level by combining the power of Watson with the new speech framework of iOS 10. The combinations and possibilities are virtually endless," said Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager of the Apple partnership at IBM, in a statement. "This is a digital assistant for the business, one that creates the next-generation professional experience tailored for enterprise processes."

For example, field technicians using the Find & Fix app integrated with Watson can verbally interact with the app while servicing equipment in the field. They can speak schedule changes and the app will automatically notify dispatch and modify the remaining schedule of jobs for the day. Using voice prompts, technicians can ask for suggestions to solve specific problems. The app can then tap into highly technical equipment manuals as well as insights gained from other technicians in the field and present them to the technician to consider before choosing a course of action.

This new generation of apps takes advantage of the latest cognitive innovations and technologies. IBM Research's human language technologies lab houses researchers currently incubating the next version of natural language processing as well as other speech recognition advancements that can be integrated into the made-for-business apps.

At the same time, IBM is partnering with Slack to bring Watson's cognitive computing to Slack's global community of developers and enterprise users, who will be able to create more offerings, including bots and other conversational inferences. Developers will be able to access the range of Watson services, such as Conversation, Sentiment Analysis, or Speech APIs, and build tools for the platform with this enhanced cognitive functionality.

As a first step, IBM and Slack intend to develop new and improved communications tools for users of the Slack platform, including an updated Slackbot to be powered by Watson and an IBM Watson-enabled bot for IT and network operations.


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