Big changes are coming to Siri, Apple’s intelligent voice-activated assistant. For the first time, Siri will be available on the Mac and will be opened to third-party developers on iOS.
While Siri was one of the first voice-controlled AI assistants on the market, it’s fallen behind competitors like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Now, largely because it was a closed system that worked only in Apple’s apps. Opening it to developers makes it much more functional, and presents a more serious challenge to upstarts like Viv that promise to help with a wide range of services and tasks.
SAN FRANCISCO — The iconic glass staircase is gone. The interior is being gutted. The Apple logos have been covered up.
Rest in peace, Apple’s original flagship store in San Francisco, which opened to great fanfare just a dozen years ago. Apple recently opened a crazily detailed store just two blocks away on Union Square, and the old one is being rapidly dismantled.
Cult of Maccub reporter Lyle Kahney rode his bike downtown to snap a few photos of the old San Francisco Apple Store before it’s completely gone.
Godammit. I really loved Muhammad Ali. My all-time greatest hero. A great athlete, funny as shit, and a giant of a man because he gave a shit about something other than himself. He stood up for what he believed in, and he shone a light on all kinds of injustice. Rest in peace Ali.
SAN FRANCISCO — Look carefully at the cracks in the sidewalk around Apple’s new flagship store in San Francisco. They all line up with architectural elements of the store.
Some are continuous with the metal panels on the exterior walls. Some line up with the windows, and the huge glass panels that make up the 42-foot high front door. Some of the cracks are continuous with the stone floor tiles inside the store.
In turn, the joints in the floor line up with panels on the wall, which line up with the lighting panels on the ceiling.
In fact, most of the lines in the store — the edges of the glass balconies, cutouts in the middle of the tables, the edges of shelves and drawers — all line up with other elements of the store.
Some of these lines run continously from the sidewalk in front of the store all the way through to the tree-lined plaza in the back. It’s a bit crazy, when you examine it, and very, very difficult to pull off.
I’ve seen the future of Wi-Fi. It’s called Eero. It comes in a pack of three, costs an arm and a leg, but boy is it worth it.
Eero is a slick system of mesh-connected routers that blanket your whole house in Wi-Fi. Eero promises to eliminate dead spots, make restarts redundant, and offer blazing speeds from the basement to the attic.
In my tests, Eero performs as advertised. After years of Wi-Fiheadaches, and an Apple Time Capsule that barely worked, we now have fast and reliable Wi-Fi all over the house.
Ask Amazon’s Echo smart speaker “How much does the Earth weigh?” and she’ll rattle off the answer in pounds. It takes about a full minute and is genuinely amusing. It’s just one of many surprises up Echo’s sleeve (see this crazy list of Echo Easter Eggs on Reddit). It proves she is by far the best computer you can talk to. Sorry Siri.
And now there are two new members of Amazon’s smart speaker family, both with significant advantages. I love them both, with a couple of caveats.
The various auto designers and experts interviewed by Motor Trend speculate that Apple will try to redefine the car “experience.” They talk about stuff like acoustics, and look and feel, rather than specs like miles per gallon or engine torque.
They predict that Apple will bring a better “user experience” to the car of the future, not just a better physical product.
This reminded me of interviewing Apple’s designers for my Jony Ive book. They explained that the design group takes exactly this approach when thinking about new Apple products. Instead of starting with chip speeds or screen resolutions, they begin by asking each other how the new product should make the user feel.