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Friday Briefing: Will Starbucks and Square Make the Perfect Blend?

Happy Friday! It’s time to look forward to the weekend and get your weekly roundup tech news.

Remember to cast your vote in the survey at the end, though. As this lets us know the types of stories our readers dig most.

Let’s jump right in…

Tech Trend #1: Nuance Introduces a Siri for Everyone Else

The Siri personal assistant application was one of the main selling features for Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone 4S. And while having a voice-controlled application with an actual personality is a novel idea, its popularity quickly cooled off. Part of the reason is that the Siri could only be integrated into native applications in the iPhone operating system.

Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN) – the company behind the voice recognition technology that allows Siri to understand your voice – could change that, though. The company already offers a voice-control app called Dragon Go!, and it provides useful features that Siri doesn’t offer. Now it’s created new voice-control software that not only understands natural language like Siri can, but it can also be incorporated into existing mobile applications.

Nuance is offering the software development kit (SDK) to banks, insurance companies and other businesses so they can bring advanced voice features to their applications. It’s also offering development assistance. And while the software won’t be available to smaller application developers at this time, I’m convinced that it will trickle down once it begins to catch on.

Now, according to The Verge, “Nuance doesn’t believe that [the software] competes directly with Siri.” It’s tough to agree, though, when you consider that the company named the app Nina. Cute.

Another great feature about Nina is that it can also unlock your phone using your voice. Something that I find a bit more secure than a numeric password.

Granted, Apple has a new unlock mechanism in the works that could be even stronger. WSD Insider subscribers have been tuned in to the technology – and the company that develops it – for over a year now. Gains are currently at 173%. Go here to find out more.

Tech Trend #2: Starbucks Cozies Up to Square

Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) just dished out $25 million to put Square’s payment technology in its coffee shops. Square offers a credit card reader that attaches to iPhones and iPads. It also provides a new way for consumers to pay for their caffeine fixes without credit cards at all.

Using GPS technology, your mobile phone can alert Starbucks that you’re in the shop. When you walk up to the register, the cashier can identify you in the system and process the payment without any further steps. No credit cards involved.

This is a step away from NFC payment technology, like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Wallet, since it doesn’t require consumers to take their phones out at all. That also means, however, that it doesn’t come with the built-in security measures NFC offers. For instance, as Reuters’ John C. Abell says, “NFC is specifically designed to work only over tiny distances – a few centimeters – the better to avoid mishaps that might occur if you were just walking past a terminal.”

We’ll have to wait a while to see if consumers catch on to the new format, though, since Starbucks won’t be using Square’s location awareness features right away.

Tech Trend #3: Competitors Getting Grumpy Over Microsoft’s Surface Tablet

In June, Acer founder, Stan Shih, expressed that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) wouldn’t stay in the tablet-making business for long. And its new Surface tablet was just a way to build interest in the new operating system.

I told you at the time I wasn’t convinced – and with good reason.

Well, now it seems that Acer doesn’t even believe it anymore. The company’s CEO, JT Wang, told the Financial Times, “We have [told Microsoft to] think it over… It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction… It is not something you are good at… so please think twice.”

The problem with Wang’s statement is that Microsoft actually created a unique tablet that had the tech world buzzing after the company unveiled it. That’s something many hardware makers have failed to do.

My advice to Mr. Wang: Instead of giving Microsoft anymore not-so-friendly advice, get to work on creating your own killer Windows tablet that gets us even more excited. This is what competition is all about, no?

Cast Your Vote!

Let us know which topic interested you the most…

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That’s all for today. Have a great weekend!

Good investing,

Justin Fritz

Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

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