TechCrunch Disrupt alumni Maluuba is launching the latest version of its Siri-like Android app in the Google Play store today. The major new feature in this latest release is the addition of shopping-related queries and results to the 18 other categories Maluuba currently understands.
Thanks to this new feature, users can now ask the app questions like “Show me the prices of Nikon cameras” and “I want to buy a sweater” and get answers and compare prices directly in the app.
The company has partnered with Walmart and Best Buy to power this shopping feature. Maluuba also gets results from Google Shopping and has an existing relationship with NexTag. In addition, the service uses the standard APIs of companies like Amazon, IKEA, Zappos, Zara, Lowes and others to answer queries about these merchants when users directly ask for them in their Maluuba queries (“I want to buy a coat from Zara”). These new shopping features are available for users in the U.S., UK, Canada, and Australia.
As Maluuba co-founder and CEO Sam Pasupalak told me earlier this week, the company believes that it is “leapfrogging” competitors like Google Now and Siri by adding this feature.
“We see current Internet monetization schemes (like AdWords) as a transitionary phase in the history of the Internet,” said Pasupalak. “The final endgame will be intelligent agents making informed, contextual recommendations for users’ queries and content providers paying a percentage for such highly targeted lead generation. We think Maluuba is on track to get there first. Siri hasn’t even taken a first step yet.”
The company hopes that it will be able to learn more about how its users interact with the service during the holiday shopping season in order to tweak and improve the service as the team learns more.
To highlight today’s release and the new shopping feature, Maluuba is also giving away a Nexus 7 and a number of Best Buy gift cards in a small pre-holiday contest.
Maluuba’s mission is to empower people with the ability to find exactly what they want by speaking to their smart phone. Maluuba’s proprietary, patent-pending engine provides superior capabilities to traditional voice recognition systems. Asking a question like, “what movies are playing nearby?” enables users to buy tickets, find theater directions, and share search results on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The Maluuba language engine is a product of two years of advanced research in artificial intelligence, machine learning...