Winston, the personal voice assistant that helps jumpstart your morning, recently launched its second build in Apple’s App Store, and its first publicly available version.
It has been compared to Apple’s Siri. But unlike Siri, you can’t ask Winston search-related questions.
Instead, Winston is a voice-enhanced social news reader. It scans tweets, Facebook updates and news sites for relevant content. It reads headlines out loud via “Briefs.”
Winston can decipher disjointed tweets. It can tell if your friends broke up with someone, or someone passed away by reading Facebook status messages. The app is programmed to identify feelings while scanning for the latest, relevant news.
“We’re working on the intersection between news stories you’ve been reading lately and finding what friends are sharing,” Winston co-founder Aaron Ting tells Business Insider.
Where Siri lacks in personality (Apple is actually hiring editors to improve Siri’s script), the Winston founders have spent a lot of time making their app polite. They gave Winston a British man’s voice, like the butler many people dream of having.
“Siri makes you feel dumb for asking wrong thing,” Winston co-founder Aaron Ting tells us. “Our app asks you what you want and it’s clear. It’s respectful.”
There are a handful of startups working in this space, like Grokr, which aims to give you information before you need it, and Sivi, which acts as a personal concierge. Winston is similar to the product Qwiki set out to build when it won TechCrunch Disrupt in 2010.
But none have successfully made customised talk-radio stations in real-tme, which is essentially what Winston’s founders are building. The best use case for a mobile personal assistant like Winston is in the car when your hands are occupied and your eyes are glued to the road. Ting says his team is in talks with car companies about partnerships; they were drawn to each other at CES, where a number of manufacturers encouraged developers to hack their vehicles.
Another use case for Winston is as an alarm clock, to help people quickly catch up on news that breaks overnight. The founders say they’re eager to build that feature, but it’s not a part of the public launch.
Winston was first unveiled last August at DreamIt Ventures demo day in New York. At that point, the company was in the process of closing a $500,000 seed round. Now the team is working on a second round of financing that could be closer to $1 million.
Winston’s founding team, Ting, Luke Evans, Steve Kaschinske, and Terence Cudney, are all based in Boulder, Colorado.
Here’s a demo of how Winston works:
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