Turns out the Yahoo Google Now and/or Siri competitor for Android that was floating around earlier today didn’t come from Yahoo!, but it is a real prototype built by a startup called Robin Labs.
The actual story behind the app shown in the video is a bit complicated according to TechCrunch. Robin Labs, the company behind the app, specializes in speech recognition, natural language, and navigation, as shown in the leaked video. The company actually has an app that has some similar functions appropriately called “Robin – The Siri Challenger” in the Play Store right now.
The video in question was created by Robin Labs for Yahoo as an example of what a partnership between the two companies can bring about, though Yahoo did not commission the video. While the startup has its own app, it is also working on a white label virtual assistant platform that other companies can put their branding on. “The idea is that brands could offer their content to their audiences, wrapped in voice-interactive UI,” Robin Labs CEO Ilya Eckstein said.
Robin Labs has been in talks with Yahoo about a potential partnership for some time, though Eckstein wouldn’t say how long. The video leaked sometime after it was shown to Yahoo, and was apparently on another video service before it appeared on DailyMotion on December 4. Talks between the two companies are still ongoing, and perhaps the excitement generated by the leaked video will convince them to go through with building the app.
Given Yahoo’s recent history, it’s easy to think the Internet giant might try to buy Robin Labs for its technology and talent. Yahoo has been buying up a lot startups since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO, including developers of other Android apps like Astrid. As a startup that works with natural language, Robin Labs would be a good complement to Yahoo’s other recent purchase of SkyPhrase.
None of this is guaranteed to happen, and it could amount to nothing, but it’s at least exciting to think about, right?