Breakfast Briefing: Apple wants wittier Siri, IE video chat, second-hand MP3 sales

In today's tech news round up: find out why Apple's seeking a Siri scriptwriter and much more

18 Jan 2013

Come in from the cold with today's top tech stories. This morning we hear about Apple's plans to give Siri more personality, Microsoft's latest browser chat developments and the second-hand digital music market coming to Europe.

Apple seeking human touch for Siri

Fancy a job responding to inane questions about train timetables? Apple's looking for someone to put a more human patois into its iPhone assistant Siri, seeking a scriptwriter to freshen up the service's lines.

Siri's family tree runs back to artificial intelligence work from the US military, but according to a job ad spotted by MIT's Technology Review, Apple wants to add character to dialogue.

Apple wants "someone who combines a love for language, wordplay, and conversation with demonstrated experience in bringing creative content to life within an intense technical environment," the ad reads. The applicant will need "experience in writing character-driven dialogue... to evolve and enrich Siri - known for her wit, cultural knowledge, and zeal - to explain things in engaging, funny, and practical ways."

Microsoft unveils video chat progress

Never one to be afraid of pushing the limits of the meaning of common standards, Microsoft has published details of plans to bring plugin-free video chat into its browser, Internet Explorer.

Gigaom discusses how the company's take on browser-based chat differs from the WebRTC model used by Google and others, although Microsoft says its latest effort can connect video callers using OS X and Chrome with a friend using IE on Windows 8.

According to Gigaom, Microsoft "took issue with efforts to make Google’s VP8 video codec the default choice for WebRTC. Microsoft’s own proposal, dubbed CU-WebRTC, would instead leave it up to the developer of each app to settle on a codec".

Digital content reseller comes to Europe

Digital content reseller ReDigi is set to launch in Europe in the first quarter of this year, according to the Financial Times. The site lets users sell second-hand digital music, books and other content, but it’s already facing copyright complaints in New York.

"Property laws the world over have always been that if you buy something, you have the right to resell it," CEO John Ossenmacher told the FT. "Companies like EMI [which owns Capitol Records] are trying to change the status quo by trying to take away people’s property rights and their rights to resell their goods just because they happen to be digital."

In order to prevent users from selling a song but keeping a copy, it moves the track to its own servers, deletes the seller’s copy, and then sends it to the buyer - a system that has clear loopholes, but at least makes some effort to keep the service legitimate.

Digital content resales have already been ruled legal in Europe, and to make things sweeter for artists, ReDigi is offering a 20% sales cut to any that register with the site.

US bill to force mobile app data deletion

Officials in the US are to discuss a bill that would force app developers to give clearer details about the information they collect and allow users to delete their data.

The Application Privacy, Protection, and Security (APPS) Act would impose greater responsibility on developers to inform users what information would be collected. Consumers choosing to stop using the service would get the power "to the extent practicable, to delete any personal data collected by the application that is stored by the developer". The Verge has the details.

Google buys another London pad

Not content with swish offices in London's Victoria and a new pad opened only last year just off Oxford Street, Google has reportedly snapped up a 2.4 acre site in Kings Cross. The 1 million square feet premises is being redeveloped and Google plans to move in in 2016, according to Reuters.

It’s being described as one of the biggest regeneration projects London has ever seen. No word on the council tax bill, yet...

Rogue clouds pose admins problems

Rogue clouds seem apt today, but rather than another snowy excuse for train companies to cut services, they refer to online enterprise services subscribed to by departments outside the IT administration.

According to research from security company Symantec, covered by Network World, 83% of companies surveyed had some sort of cloud service set up by business managers that hadn't told admins what they were doing. It's almost like they got bored of waiting for a response from the server room.

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