HomePod arrived yesterday at 9:40 a.m. PST; thank-you UPS for prompt delivery of my preorder. My initial reaction: Wow and uh-oh. The wow harkens back to the original iPod, which Apple released in October 2001. The company's design ethic treated the overall experience as the user interface: Attach FireWire cable to Mac and device, music syncs. iTunes manages music on the Mac; for iPod, a simple scroll-wheel navigates tracks displayed on a small screen. The uncomplicated and understated approach defied the UX of every other MP3 sold by all other manufacturers.
HomePod is a defining, roots-return that's well-deserving of the portion of name in common with its forebear; both share in common emphasis on music listening as primary benefit.
After something of a delay -- two years, no less -- Microsoft has finally ported Cortana from the iPhone to the iPad.
The company has not made a great deal of noise about the updated app, but its digital assistant has now been optimized for use on Apple devices with larger screens. The restrictions of iOS still mean that Cortana cannot compete directly with Siri, as it is only possible to access the assistant's tools once it has been launched.
It seems as though Apple's upcoming iMac Pro will feature an A10 Fusion chip as a co-processor. The inclusion of the chip -- the same one used in the iPhone 7 -- has led to speculation that "Hey, Siri" support could be making its way to macOS.
A couple of developers cracked open Apple's BridgeOS 2.0 software package, and the code shows that the chip appears to be used to handle security and the boot process. But it's the prospect of always-on "Hey, Siri" support that will interest many people.
Security researchers have discovered that digital assistants, including Alexa, Siri and Cortana, are vulnerable to hacking via inaudible voice commands. Known as the DolphinAttack, the exploit involves the use of ultrasonic commands that cannot be heard by humans.
Researchers from China's Zhejiang University have detailed the attack technique in a paper, but there are so many limitations and caveats that the vulnerability is not something that most people need worry about.
When Amazon released the Echo hardware and Alexa voice assistant, no one knew for sure how successful it would be. Since the release, however, it has proven wildly popular -- not only with users, but with developers and hardware-makers too. There are many devices that work with Alexa, not to mention, countless skills.
Following Echo being a runaway success, Google copied it with its Home assistant. Curiously absent in this copying, however, was Apple. Since the company already has a voice assistant with Siri, it seemed like creating a hardware speaker would be a no-brainer. Sadly, one did not surface -- until now. Today, Apple announces the product for which many people were clamoring -- HomePod. Unfortunately for the company, the product will be a tough sell.
At WWDC today Apple announced not only High Sierra, but also watchOS 4. One of the biggest updates -- or at least the most visible -- here are to be found on watch faces. As well as being customizable, faces can now dynamically change based on various criteria, such as location and time of day.
Apple is also bring kaleidoscopic faces to the Watch -- something it describes as "trippy." But perhaps the most exciting update is the fact that Siri can now be used on Apple Watch.
Belkin's Wemo smart home devices are absolutely brilliant. Not only does the company offer power outlet and light switch adapters, but it recently introduced a dimmer switch too. The Wemo products are also compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home, making them easy to control by voice.
Unfortunately, Wemo devices are not compatible with Apple HomeKit or Siri. There is good news, however -- Belkin is adding support. Starting this fall, consumers can buy a new product called "Wemo Bridge," which will enable HomeKit support for existing Wemo devices. It simply plugs into an Ethernet port on your router, thereby enabling support for Apple's smart home platform.
The number of digital assistants installed is on track to exceed 7.5 billion by 2012, which is more than the world population.
According to technology research company Ovum, Google Assistant will dominate the voice AI–capable device market with 23.3 percent market share, followed by Samsung's Bixby (14.5 percent), Apple's Siri (13.1 percent), Amazon's Alexa (3.9 percent), and Microsoft's Cortana (2.3 percent).
Today we arrive at the first of two 10-year anniversaries regarding iPhone: Steve Jobs unveiling the handset six months before its release -- unusual for Apple's then-CEO to pre-announce something, but necessary, with the federal regulatory rigmarole that cellular devices go through. Jobs and his management team brought the smartphone to market at great risk: Established and entrenched manufacturers, mainly Nokia, had huge distribution channels and massive amounts of research and development invested in their cellulars. iPhone debuted in one market (United States) and on a single carrier (AT&T, which concurrently rebranded). By most measures of business strategies: Insanity. But risk was a defining characteristic of Jobs' leadership style running the company.
You will read many "state of iPhone" analyses and commentaries this week spotlighting slowing sales, as buying growth plateaus in major markets (China, Europe, and the United States) and observing that Android continues to gobble global market share. The problem with iPhone is something else, and it's a metaphor for what's desperately wrong at Apple as 2017 starts: Loss of innovative mindshare; obsession with an outdated design motif; unwillingness to take meaningful risks. The company's fortunes rose with iPhone, and they will fall with it.
It is officially summertime, meaning fun in the sun. I have been enjoying lazy days on my deck, listening to my favorite tunes. While I could use my iPhone's integrated speaker, it is too weak for optimal outdoor enjoyment. Instead, I utilize a Bluetooth speaker for improved volume and clarity.
Ultimate Ears makes damn good speakers, and today, the company is transforming both its UE BOOM 2 and UE MEGABOOM with an intriguing new feature. Android and iOS users can now leverage the power of Siri or Google Now from these two speakers directly by simply pressing the Bluetooth button once. It is sort of like the Amazon Tap, but with Apple or Google's assistant rather than Alexa.
Like it or not, we’re all going to have Batman’s Alfred Pennyworth soon. In a digital format, that is, but nonetheless an assistant.
This was concluded by research specialists Gartner, which said that by 2019, at least a quarter of households in developed countries will use the services of a digital assistant, either on a smartphone, or in a standalone device.
Neil Patrick Harris is one cool dude. From playing a boy-doctor on the TV show, Doogie Howser MD, to becoming one of the premier hosts for fancy award shows, the man is undeniably awesome. There are even some rumors that the handsome actor could replace Michael Strahan on Live! with Kelly Ripa, but I digress.
Today, NPH becomes the latest Apple advertisement star. In a video titled "Thank You Speech," the actor shows off the hands-free capabilities of the iPhone 6s.
When Cortana made its way to the Windows 10 desktop, lots of users were excited by the prospect of a Microsoft version of Siri. Moving to Android as well as Windows 10 Mobile devices, Cortana could really compete with not just Siri's voice control options, but also OK Google.
Now this has changed -- at least for Android users in the US. The latest update to the app strips out the voice activation options leaving users questioning whether or not there is any point in having the app installed.
Cortana is no longer limited to devices running Windows 10. After short period of public beta testing, Microsoft's digital assistant is now rolling out not only to iOS and Android, but also Cyanogen OS devices.
Just as on Windows 10 Mobile handsets, these new releases include many of the features that are found in the desktop version of Cortana. There are, however, some functions that remain exclusive to Windows phones -- you cannot, for example, change system settings in iOS and Android nor, frustratingly, use the hands-free "Hey Cortana" voice command.
As we come to the end of 2015, I begin reflecting on the year. While a lot of my memories are tech related, the truly important reflections involve friends and family. Ultimately, technology should be a part of our lives, not the entirety of our lives.
Apple is a company that I greatly respect, as it seemingly understands this concept. Regardless of your opinion of its products, it is undeniable that its devices and services are improving people's lives daily. A huge factor in its focus on users and society is the leadership of Tim Cook -- a person I greatly admire. His sincerity regarding equal rights is heartwarming, and throughout 2015 he has shown deep commitment. Today, Cook, with the help of Siri, is starting a conversation on cerebral palsy.