Siri and Google Now are pretty helpful additions to your regular smartphone or tablet but sometimes endlessly repeating questions or pulling up location based "photo spots" just isn't enough. We're greedy for information and we want it in front of us before we even realise what we need.
That's why we're excited about Expect Labs' upcoming iPad app Mindmeld. Due to land on the App Store in around four weeks time – so around mid-February – with later launches for iPhone and Android planned and with an expected price of 99 cents (most probably 69p for Brits), Mindmeld is essentially a know-it-all voice and video calling app.
Using Nuance tech to recognise words and phrases from your conversation, Mindmeld creates a ticker down the left hand side of your iPad and then displays relevant info pulled in from the web with images, links and text.
So if you're talking about going out for some fancy grub, Mindmeld will pull up the restaurant's website so you don't have to type it into Google yourself. The ultimate aim is to anticipate what information you'll need based on what you're talking about – clever stuff indeed. And when you begin chatting, Mindmeld will pull in the most recent Facebook updates for everyone in the group so you can have a look what your mates have been up to.
You can share any of the in-app web nuggets with the people you're chatting to – Mindmeld supports up to eight users in one group – and also take screenshots of web pages to show your mates while you carry on with the conversation. Google Plus Hangout-style, you can also hold a public Mindmeld session if you choose but there is a private setting for regular calls.
In our short demo of the app, give or take some shoddy CES Wi-Fi, Mindmeld's speech recognition worked superbly, the app's UI looked absolutely spot on and sharing web pages between callers was instantaneous.
Mindmeld conversations are stored for reference within the app as the list of phrases plus the relevant info found on the web but Expect Labs assured us that it won't store any of the audio from users' calls or pass it on to third parties or advertisers. Expect Labs also has no plans to integrate ads into the app at this stage.
More importantly, Mindmeld should put an end to frantically searching IMDB when someone mentions a classic film you haven't actually seen.
Google's throwing money at Expect Labs and we can see why – automatic, real time search from your iPad listening in to what you're jabbering about? Now we just have to find a way to weave Mila Kunis/Ryan Gosling (delete as appropriate) into all our conversations.
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