NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest operator, has continued its rollout of content initiatives and focus on its own software after it announced a six-month trial of Tap-de-Concier, a new Google Now-like service.
The operator, which doesn’t have a partnership to sell Apple devices, launched a Siri-like voice-powered personal assistant — Shabette Concier — in February 2012, and the new introduction builds on that. The service provides information and services — that are both native to the handset and from its ‘Dmenu’ Web portal — based on a user’s location, the time and their previous activity.
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DoCoMo explains more:
[The] service uses trend data, operation history and selected service statistics to enable basic device functions and services from the DoCoMo Dmenu portal to provide highly intuitive information and support, adjusted by location and time.
Information is gathered from a phone owner’s use of Dmenu, Shabbetter Concier and Tap-de-Concier itself, the latter can be used manually as an easy way to access its eight built-in handset functions — which include mail, memo, alarm and calendar — as well as 15 Internet-based services — including maps, weather and a location guide.
DoCoMo says that Tap-de-Concier provides content and services that are “highly tailored” and contextually relevant to the user’s daily and regular activity. That sounds a lot like Google Now, and the following description also rings similar bells:
For example, the service learns if a user is likely to leave the office at a given time of day and then automatically provides a list of likely destinations, which the user can tap to obtain a specific train schedule. Or, for a user who frequently looks up recipes with their smartphone before dinner, Tap-de-Concier can provide quick, easy access to popular recipes in the late afternoon and early evening.
The service is available for DoCoMo tablets, its Raku-Raku smartphones for seniors, and selected other devices that run Android 2.3 or higher.
The trial will run from March 26 to September 30, with a view to launching a full-on service thereafter.
DoCoMo’s policy of installing its own software on devices pre-sale is seen as one of the obstacles that has prevented it linking up with Apple. The operator’s dominant, near-50 percent market share would be attractive to Apple, and DoCoMo has professed its interest in a deal in the past, but for now its smartphone and tablet focus is on Android.
The operator recently expanded the retail bracket of its ‘Dshopping’ content service into fashion after it bought Japanese startup Magaseek for $22 million. The service allows users to buy a range of items, beyond simply fashion, from their device.
Headline image via Toshifumi Kitamura / Getty Images