Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘home assistants’ Category

Smarter Assistance

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Happy Friday, and Happy Holidays.

For those of you who have already started fleeing to parts beyond, here’s hoping you did not get caught up in the drone traffic at Gatwick Airport outside of London.

I guess that whole geofencing thing to keep the drones out…yeah, that’s not working out so much.

Me, I’m firmly ensconced in Turbo North, praying for the weather to stay warm enough over the weekend to follow a little white ball around.

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep up with the breakneck pace of tech news that was coming out this week.

This one caught my eye from Loup Ventures, where they conducted their annual smart speaker IQ test.

They conducted the test by asking each of the four smart speakers — Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana — 800 questions each, and then measured how well they answered correctly and/or understood the query.

Google Assistant came out on top, answering the questions correctly 87.9 percent of the time and understanding the query 100 percent of the time!

Surprisingly (at least to me, anyways), Siri came in second at 74.6 and 99.6 percent, respectively, and Alexa third, at 72.5 and 99 percent. Cortana was dead last at 63.4 and 99.4 percent.

Meanwhile, if you’re a user of Slack, be prepared to not be cut any if you visited or live in a U.S. sanctioned country recently.

The Verge reported yesterday that Slack is banning some users with links to Iran, even if they’ve left the country. 

“In order to comply with export control and economic sanctions laws…Slack prohibits unauthorized use of its products and services in certain sanctioned countries,” the notice from Slack read. “We’ve identified your team/account as originating from one of these countries and are closing the account effective immediately.” Users received no warning, and had no time to create archives or otherwise back up data.

That right there is the long arm emoji of Uncle Sam hard at work!

And speaking of big guvment, there’s this on the sub-continent of India today: India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has authorized ten government agencies, including intelligence and law enforcement, to monitor, intercept, and decrypt data on all computers in the country. 

The governmental order detailing the powers immediately drew strong criticism from both India’s privacy activists and its opposition parties, who said it enabled blanket state surveillance and violated the fundamental right to privacy that India’s 1.3 billion citizens are constitutionally guaranteed.

People who don’t comply might face up to seven years in prison and a fine, according to India’s Information Technology Act, which the order falls under.

The order caused a major dispute in India’s parliament, with members of the opposition calling it “unconstitutional, undemocratic, and an assault on fundamental rights.”

How come all of a sudden almost every single tech story seems to also have a government or public policy angle?!

That would be a question best responded to by Facebook’s PR team, the next great breeding ground for crisis communications talent.

Okay, back to the salt mines…Happy Holidays, everyone!

Written by turbotodd

December 21, 2018 at 9:40 am

Apple 2017 WWDC Opening Keynote: What Does It All Mean?

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There was a lot to absorb today in the opening 2+ hour keynote from Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, CA.

There are plenty of blog posts that are deconstructing the individual pieces and all the speeds and feeds. As a longtime, but skeptical, Apple fanboy, I thought I’d throw in my two cents…

  • Apple HomePod. Is it a “breakthrough home speaker” or is it Apple’s answer to the home assistant market from which it has been conspicuously absent?  Yes, and yes.  But it’s not about the speaker, nor does it seem to be about Apple’s home assistant. It’s somewhere in between, and with Google Home and Amazon Echoes and Taps flying off the shelves, and introducing new capabilities almost daily, Apple has a LOT of catching up to do here.
  • A new and invigorated Siri…hopefully. — Let’s face it, aside from IBM Watson, Siri was one of the first faces of a common AI. But AI seems to have taken a a few gap years, and certainly hasn’t exactly been studying for the GMAT or LSATs. We did see some new Siri capabilities with iOS 11 today (a more proactive, Google Assistant-like-orientation vis a vis the Apple Watch), a new male voice, and some cool language translation betas. But I, for one, expected to hear more about the newer and smarter Siri.
  • The ARKit Future. Apple’s new augmented reality feature in iOS 11, ARKit, is probably the most exciting “new new” thing we saw on stage today from Apple. The Wingnut AR demo (Peter Jackson’s new AR company) absolutely killed it in terms of future AR direction, and the gaming potential alone could be HUGE. AR is the immediate future of our mobile augmented reality future, and ARKit could be one of the jumpstarters developers need to start to make it (almost) real.
  • Hang on to your MacBook Air. There was lots of advanced chatter about new MacBooks, and that’s just what we got: A new MacBook (it looks like an Air, but doesn’t have the name), new MacBook Pros, a new iMac, and even an iMac Pro. Oh yeah, and a 10.5 inch iPad Pro. Hang on to those vintage 2011-2012 MacBook Airs — you might be able to sell them to desperate MBA loyalists in a few years.
  • Amazon on the Apple TV. Not sure if this is just a strategic hedge against other TV set top players or a me, too, but the really interesting part of this could be the enhanced AI and voice capabilities, especially now that 3rd party developers will be able to write to it.
  • Making new time with the Apple Watch. Okay, I’m a sucker for gimmicks, so the new “Toy Story” character watch faces and animations — all over it. For fitness buffs, the new and improved Activity tracker could help you get rid of that expensive personal trainer, but the headline for the watch for me personally was using Siri’s contextual answers and suggestions (assuming Siri HAS been doing her homework).
  • iPad Multitasking Features. Apple realizes that to jump start iPad sales, it needs to better position the device as a full-on laptop/notebook replacement. To do that, it needs to continually show that the iPad can do more and faster. Today, it introduced several changes that make it easier to multitask, including a new dragging and dropping capability that allows one to move assets between two apps in Split View. Sounds arcane enough, but much needed, even if it was more “me, too” against the Mac OS desktop. Apple also showed off a new File System for iOS and an overhauled App Switcher that should up the ante on the iPod’s potential for taking over as “the” work machine (The new Apple Pencil capabilities, including marking up PDFs, will also help here).

I’ll be keeping an eye out for other reactions, particularly from developers. Apple pointed out the review time for newly-submitted App Store is down to 24 hours, and highlighted the fact that developers have been paid out over $70B U.S. since its launch in 2008, and on pace to deliver $10B+ this year alone. 

Written by turbotodd

June 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm

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