Thursday Morning News

Analysts from Barclays seem to think we’ll get updated AirPods hardware next year. The rumour says it’s even possible that an AirPods hardware refresh could come with noise cancelling, although it’s unclear whether they mean active noise cancelling as seen in over-ear headphones, or some kind of passive noise cancellation that doesn’t require extra power to operate. With other rumours saying that updated AirPods will get some kind of waterproofing, it’s possible that all of the above is true.

A paywalled article at The Information tells us about Siri’s squandered lead. From what I’ve read elsewhere, The Information’s article claims Siri showed promise at Apple that was then left alone, and given what many people have been saying about Siri recently — particularly how it no longer matches up with what the original assistant was capable of at launch, and particularly how Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s voice-powered assistants can now do more and better — it comes as no surprise that Siri faced struggles internally at Apple, both during and after development.

More insights from Apple SVP Eddy Cue from his talk at the SXSW conference reveal the whole point of his talk. “Curation in media” was the topic at hand, and Cue made sure to differentiate Apple’s approach to that of Google or Facebook. “Quality journalism from trusted sources” seems to be the driving force behind Apple News and also Apple’s recent Texture acquisition, with Cue also pointing out podcasts on iTunes being Apple’s ideal middle ground; curated, but with a clear line drawn about what is and what isn’t acceptable.

Following the widely publicised discovery of an app available on the Mac App Store that included a “feature” that mined cryptocurrency in exchange for premium features within the app, the app was pulled by Apple for unnecessary strain on computing resources. The developer of Calendar 2 then worked with Apple to make a new version — sans cryptocurrency mining features — available on the Mac App Store, with all old and new users being compensated with a year’s worth of premium features.

The latest beta of macOS 10.13.4 removes external GPU compatibility from Macs using older Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 technology. Which is curious, given that Apple is clearly working on making the tech better for Macs with Thunderbolt 3, as AppleInsider has reports from users that now have better connection/disconnection speeds when plugging/unplugging their external GPU. It’s possible that this is a temporary regression, so let’s not freak out for the time being and see what the next beta or public release brings.

One research firm points to the widespread availability of cheap, refurbished iPhones that are “suffocating the growth of cheap new Android devices”. There’s some data to go off, but it looks like the days of cheap and cheerful Androids being sold at low prices may eventually come to an end, as refurbished and second-hand iPhones flood the market. Don’t they call this the trickle-down effect, or something?

Eighteen states in the US have signed a Right to Repair bill, including California. If passed, the bill will compel manufacturers to enable DIY and third-party repairs of their products, both by publishing repair manuals and making parts and tools available to end users. 9to5Mac writes that this is good, for the most part, as people should be able to perform some work on their own device, but they also recognise the tradeoffs this will bring. More screws, and less glue, mean that devices might start becoming bricks again.

An update to Overcast pushes the version numbers to 4.1, with Smart Resume, automatically deleting podcasts after completion, and support for password-protected podcast streams now included. Plus, there’s a bunch of bugs fixed.

Google also tells us about the availability of Google Assistant on iPad. It does pretty much everything that the iPhone version does, only with support for iPad-specific features such as Split View and multitasking.

New videos from Apple market the iMac Pro as the most powerful Mac ever made, showcasing some work from filmmakers, CG artists, and motion graphics designers produced on iMac Pro hardware.

Notable Replies

  1. Oh, Siri :disappointed:

    I really do hope they sort themselves out and make it a winner. SiriKit absolutely needs to be expanded. If Apple can’t improve it fast enough, let the developers show them what it can do.

    I bought a month’s Apple Music last night primarily so I could nick some playlists into Spotify, but I thought now I have it I’ll ask Siri to play me an album:

    Me: Hey siri, play the element of freedom album by alicia keys
    Siri: Sure, Here’s the element of freedom deluxe version by Alicia keys
    Me: Not the deluxe version
    Siri: Let’s try the album divide deluxe by ed sheeran
    Me: Hey siri, play the element of freedom standard version album by Alicia keys
    Siri: Got it.

    She did get it, but what a frustrating experience. Screw buying a HomePod.

  2. To be fair to Apple, they really had no chance in the race for AI assistants. Amazon and Google leverage their massive global networking architecture which gathers and stores data on, well, pretty much everything. Alexa and Google Assistant are using machine learning on all that data to improve it; Apple has… umm… a big fancy new building where people walk into walls?

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