Home virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and to a lesser extent, Apple’s Siri, are loved by some and feared by others. Here at TMO, our staff falls on both sides of that line. Most of us love Amazon’s Echo/Dot/Alexa, while I personally hold my nose at the underlying technology and fear its potential for home surveillance. I should add that most of our staff also think I’m flat out wrong. Note that I’m OK with that. Of all the virtual assistant companies, only Apple has a stated position of protecting our privacy, but the company also hasn’t released hardware like Amazon Echo or Dot. Online comic strip XKCD took a snarky, succinct— and yet oblique—look at the subject. I’d love to know what our readers think.
Our artificial intelligence agents can either be embedded in our computers and/or mobile devices. Or they can reside in a cute little colorful cylinder that sits on a table. Which is better? Which is the future? Which should you invest in? Maybe Siri knows.
We’re learning more about what to expect when Apple ships the iPhone 8 this fall, and it’s looking like we won’t have to give up our Lightning ports after all. John Martellaro and Jeff Butts join Jeff Gamet to look at Lightning and USB-C, plus Touch ID and finger print sensors embedded in the display. Jeff Butts also shares a tip on using “Hey, Siri” on your Mac.
Don’t you wish you could just say “Hey Siri” and have your Mac’s version of the voice assistant respond? Apple seems to have forgotten that feature with macOS Sierra, but Jeff Butts found a way to make it happen. Follow along in this Quick Tip, and you can have your own Mac’s voice assistant at your beck and call, without lifting a finger.
I love this! Drummer Richy Ramirez posted a video to Instagram where he used Siri as his metronome. Really, he used her as both metronome and backing track. It’s clever and entertaining, both, and I love the beat he lays down on top. Check it out.
Siri started out with a female voice exclusively, but now it can be changed to male. Alexa uses only a female voice. Cortana’s voice, for now, is strictly female. Why is that? Is it sexism? Is it for better intelligibility? John looks into the matter.
The Amazon Echo family of devices shouldn’t be underestimated. We talk about how it appears to be a device for casual questions, weather, music and shopping. But the underlying technology is going after something much bigger. Moreover, Amazon’s lead over Apple in AI and home automation may be unstoppable. John looks at two articles that provide insight into what Amazon is after in the long run.
The LEGO Batman movie is out, and it shows us just how important Siri is: She’s the computer system of choice for Gotham’s elite vigilante crime fighters. Luckily, we don’t have to live in Gotham, become emotionally scarred orphans watching our parents die, or spend gobs of money on devices named bat…something. We can get Siri to treat us like the bat heroes we want to be right on our iPhones. Just press and hold your iPhone’s Home button to activate Siri, and get your Batman on by saying, “Hey, computer,” or “Hey, ‘puter.” Siri will respond with bat-appropriate comments, first try.
In the battle of virtual personal assistants, Apple and Amazon have strong contenders. Which one is “smarter,” though, Siri or Alexa? Perhaps it’s too early to really call the race, since both personal assistants keep growing and evolving. Be that as it may, Jeff Butts has put both through their paces, and shares his thoughts.
Work Visas for the tech industry may be changing thanks to an executive order that’s said to be coming from the White House. Bryan Chaffin and John Martellaro join Jeff Gamet to look at the draft order and the impact it could have on Apple and other Silicon Valley companies. They also have some thoughts on the rapidly changing smart home market and Apple’s apparent lagging position.
Apple’s commitment to the artificial intelligence community is even stronger now that it’s officially a founding member of the Partnership for AI. The organization was created to help shape the future of artificial intelligence technology in an open way.
All right, maybe you feel dumb talking to your Mac, so you don’t use macOS Sierra’s version of Siri. Melissa Holt feels awkward about it too, but for using content-aware reminders, she’ll make an exception. Wanna get reminded in an hour to respond to a certain email? You can do just that, and we’ll tell you how!
Cool Stuff Found today contains lots of things you suggested after listening to recent shows, including tools to help your Mac sleep, help you manage your keyboard shortcuts and macros, privately sync your notes, auto-file your Mail, and free backup storage! Then its on to sharing your tips and answering your questions. Want to learn how to factory reset your AirPods, enable band-steering on your router, or have Siri search Google instead of Bing? Let’s go!
Bryan is totally paranoid about the Internet of Things, and he isn’t at all happy about the idea of having an Amazon Echo or Google Home listening in on everything in his house. Jeff laughs at him. Once the guffaws die down, they talk about how and why Apple is getting crushed by these good enough devices.
Dr. Mac says he’s been using his voice with hisMac more and more and guess what… He thinks macOS 10.12 Sierra may well be the best listener of all time.
Today’s Quick Tip will give you tricks on finding and opening files within macOS. If you’ve ever wondered what the fastest ways are to do that, then this article’s for you! (Or heck, if you just want to tell us in the comments that we forgot your favorite method, then that’s fine too.)
Steve Jobs revolutionized the music industry. Twice. But then Apple went a bit off key. The new Apple Music has it back on song though…Charlotte Henry explains why.
If you’re running macOS Sierra, you may know that you can use Siri on your computer, but Apple’s voice assistant can also help you find out what specs your Mac’s got. So if you need to know how much storage space you have remaining, say, Siri has you covered. And so do we!
The best analyst questions during Apple’s Q4 2016 Financial Results came from Simona Jankowski with Goldman Sachs. She asked Tim Cook about his perspective on home vs. mobile artificial intelligence agents and then the issue of privacy. Tim Cook took a solid stand on both questions that reveal the future direction of Apple.
A major problem with Artificial Intelligence (AI) development is that a time might come when AI’s are able to learn and teach themselves faster than humans can manage them. Recently, President Obama suggested AI’s that aren’t properly constrained and regulated could be unleashed on unsuspecting citizens and severely disadvantage them. Figuring out when to step in will be the great 21st century challenge for governments.