You were wondering, where did Almond go? Did it catch the virus (Almond, not us)?
Fear not, though, cause a new release of Almond is about to happen, and golly, it’s a big one!
In particular, the next release of Almond will incorporate more than one year of work in bringing multi-turn, conversational interactions.
This is the first release to feature the newest Genie Toolkit, a new, greatly expanded all-in-one solution for dialogues. Genie is based on a state-of-the-art sequence-to-sequence neural network for language understanding, grammar-based synthesis to obtain low-cost training data, and a general-purpose state machine to drive the dialogues. A new conversational skill in Genie can be coded just by providing APIs and databases - much like the old Thingpedia skills in fact! Except you get full length dialogues now.
It is also the first release to incorporate some of the work that is being sponsored by the Sloan Foundation to bring the Almond assistant to users, for real. In this work, we’re focusing on the top 10 skills first, and making them really high quality. You can check out our roadmap here.
Because of the renewed focus on the top 10 skills, and because the new dialogue models require some update to the existing skills, the new version of Almond will not support the existing Thingpedia skills right away. For this reason, we’re branding this release 1.99. This is to say, it is a development release: it is suitable for testing and early adopters, but anyone who is using Almond on a day to day basis should probably stay on the existing Almond 1.8. In particular, we won’t be supporting Home Assistant at first.
The goal is for Almond 1.99 to be a stepping stone towards Almond 2.0 later in the fall. Almond 2.0 will include all the features of the current stable version of Almond, but also incorporate the latest Genie technology. You can learn about our plans here.
How To Try It
Almond 1.99 will be released on the development channels:
- almond-server will be available as the
latesttag in dockerhub
- almond-gnome will be available from the nightly builds flatpak repository
- almond-cloud will be available from https://almond-dev.stanford.edu exclusively for testing (it is a low performance server and might be subject to data losses)
The best way to test Almond 1.99 is on your PC or custom smart speaker. I have spent some time to build a DIY smart speaker with a Raspberry Pi + Almond, and I will blog about it soon. There are some rough edges, but it works well with Spotify.
The beta version of Almond will be available later today. But it is a beta of open source software, so we already know of bugs. We plan to fix the major bugs and have a release candidate by the end of the week, so the final version will go out in about two weeks.
As usual, you can find the detailed release schedule on the wiki.
So yeah, now you know our status and our plan. Go ahead, enjoy the soon to be coming release, and help us make a great open-source virtual assistant!