Monday Morning News

The former VP of the Siri team at Apple says that voice-powered virtual assistants don’t deliver on the promise of being able to understand you as well as they should. While every year brings faster, more natural-sounding virtual assistants to our devices, the problem is that they don’t understand the world like other humans do, and are only designed to perform very specific tasks. Bill Stasior says people who use virtual assistants quickly learn which commands work and which ones don’t, which greatly limits the usability of voice assistants. We’re a long way off from being able to talk to a machine and have it understand us.

Wired spoke to a number of developers who have mixed reactions towards Apple’s Sign In with Apple login method. Even though all the press is lauding Sign In with Apple as a more private login method that provides advantages to both users and developers, there are developers who think that it isn’t right for Apple to force its authentication method on developers, or that it may not be usable in all situations where a sign in is required. And while other login methods like Facebook may come with extra data like social graph information, that may also be a positive or a negative for developers looking to implement a "recommended by friends" feature.

There are plenty of reasons that you may not want to use iMessage, particularly if you’re someone that often bounces between iOS and Android devices. But when it comes to using a secure, encrypted messaging platform, it’s hard to beat the one that comes with iOS, which is where iMessage pulls so far ahead of the competition it’s hard to believe they even exist. Never mind trying to get your friends and family to switch to a third-party app, what’s a little platform lock-in for private and secure messages?

Digiday says that the proliferation of people wearing AirPods in the office has meant changing social norms. Once accepted as the universal sign of "do not disturb", the meaning of having AirPods in your ears or headphones on your head has changed from "is this person actually listening to something, or can I talk to them?" There are no prizes for guessing wrongly, and it’s just another one of the ways AirPods are changing the world. See also: office workers love their AirPods because their employers stole their walls.

Israeli forensics firm Cellebrite now claims they can unlock any device from iOS 7 all the way through to iOS 12.3. That unlocking capability comes courtesy of Cellebrite’s Universal Forensic Extraction Device, or UFED, which is sold as an on-premise tool for police and other law-enforcement agencies to buy and use themselves. All of which means the cat and mouse game between Apple and third-party device unlocking companies continues.

Twitter has revealed they will be bringing back their Mac app via Apple’s Project Catalyst. Twitter says the new Twitter for Mac will leverage its current iOS codebase, adding native Mac features on top of its existing iPad experience, although I’m hopeful that it will at least be tweaked to run better on the Mac than it does on a device designed for touch input as the primary interaction method.

MacRumors tells us about the Hot Wheels id Smart Track Kit, which features strong integration with physical real-world cars and tracks, as well as the digital companion app for collecting and racing cars. NFC tags on the vehicles allow them to be recognised by the iOS app, allowing for additional in-app experiences, and existing Hot Wheels tracks can also be used. The Hot Wheels Smart Track Kit is now available at Apple Stores and online for $299.

AppleInsider shares more iOS 13 tidbits, including full-page screenshots in mobile Safari, zipping and unzipping files in the Files app, as well as haptic feedback for Face ID unlocks.

The default location of media files is changing as of macOS Catalina, which is largely down to the release of the Music app and the introduction of separate apps for everything that iTunes currently does. While Music will still be in its usual place, you may have to go hunting for your other media files.

There is only one problem with the new Mac Pro, and it’s the fact that it doesn’t fill the gap that some wanted it to. The new Mac Pro is great for those that want power and expandability, but for those with more meagre computing requirements, there’s still no Mac for that, and it usually comes down to a choice between the iMac or Mac Pro, both less upgradeable due to their all-in-one nature. The Mac mini comes close, but it, too, is kind of expensive for the lack of internal expandability.

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