DirecTV’s Siri Clone Brings Familiar Voice to Remote-Control App

Photographer: Chris Rank/Bloomberg

DirecTV in Atlanta. Close

DirecTV in Atlanta.

Photographer: Chris Rank/Bloomberg

DirecTV in Atlanta.

When DirecTV (DTV) customers download the satellite-TV company’s new remote-control application to their smartphones, they’ll hear a familiar voice.

The app, which lets users control the television by talking to their phones, also responds in the same artificial intonations as Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s Siri. The DirecTV (DTV) app will be available on Android devices in addition to iPhones, meaning the voice that’s come to be associated with Siri will be piping up in new places.

While Apple owns the Siri application, Nuance Communications Inc. (NUAN) owns the rights to the voice and licenses it out. That allows DirecTV --and perhaps other technology companies -- to use a voice customers recognize as they seek to replace clunky interfaces with more human ways of searching menus and data.

“We ask our customers what would add value to their entertainment experience,” DirecTV Chief Executive Officer Mike White said in an interview. “At the top of their request list is a voice function that allows them to change channels, ask for recommendations and access their content even faster just by speaking commands.”

The free app will be available to DirecTV customers this summer both for iPhones and devices that use Android, the operating system created by Google Inc. (GOOG), Tony Goncalves, vice president of digital entertainment products, said in an interview.

The software will allow users to change the channel and search for live and on-demand programming with voice commands, such as “Find movies with Will Ferrell” or “Show me all Major League Baseball games on today.” Subscribers will be able to watch and control programming on their phones or on their TVs, depending on their preference.

DirecTV plans to seek feedback from customers before introducing the product formally. The app will eventually be available for tablet computers in addition to phones, Goncalves said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at

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