Apple terminates contracts of people hired to listen to Siri recordings

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HomePod siri
Contractors listened to around 1,000 Siri recordings each shift.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple has laid off the contractors whose job it was to listen to Siri recordings to improve the quality of Apple’s voice assistant.

Contractors in Ireland had their fixed term contracts “abruptly terminated” this week. This followed Apple suspending the practice last month. During each shift, employees supposedly listened to 1,000 Siri recordings.

Fortnite mech everybody hates sees massive nerfs

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Fortnite-BRUTE
It's about time!
Photo: Epic Games

The Fortnite B.R.U.T.E. almost every player hates finally saw massive nerfs this week.

The mech now fires fewer rockets, deals less damage, and takes longer to cool down after boosting. Epic Games has also made it so that materials are no longer granted to B.R.U.T.E. riders.

Tim Cook ‘heartbroken’ over the death of European privacy regulator

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Giovanni Buttarelli
Tim Cook with his friend Giovanni Buttarelli.
Photo: Tim Cook/Twitter

Tim Cook has tweeted his condolences following the death of EU data protection regulator Giovanni Buttarelli. Buttarelli passed away on August 20 at the age of 62.

In a recent tweet, Cook described himself as “heartbroken by the loss of my friend.” He credited Buttarelli with advancing “the cause of privacy in Europe and around the world.”

Today in Apple history: iPad takes to the skies with United Airlines

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United Airlines iPad
If only they had known about the iPad Air...
Photo: United Airlines

23 Today in Apple history: United Airlines will issue iPads to pilots August 23, 2011: United Airlines says it will hand out 11,000 iPads for its pilots. It’s the largest rollout yet of Apple tablets as a replacement for the weighty flight bags previously carried by pilots.

Going paperless saves around 16 million sheets of paper each year, the equivalent of 1,900 trees not cut down. The weight difference between the 1.5-pound iPad and the 40-pound flight bag also saves 326,000 gallons of jet fuel per year!

Apple launches new beta version of its iCloud web portal

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iCloud new version
The new iCloud interface.
Screenshot: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple has launched a new beta version of its iCloud web portal. It includes a new background, revamped Reminders app, and new launch screen.

The change ditches the bubble-filled blue backdrop the iCloud web portal had before. Instead, there’s now a simple minimalist white background.

The average iPhone has been active for 18 months

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iPhone XS box gold
People are holding onto their smartphones for longer than ever.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The average iPhone has been active for 18 months, a new report from Strategy Analytics suggests. That compares to 16.5 months for Samsung handsets.

Overall, it seems that people are upgrading their phones at a slower rate. That’s reportedly as a result of “diminishing innovation,” which provides less of a reason to do so. It also likely has a whole lot to do with increased prices.

New Bose portable speaker plays smarter with AirPlay 2

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Bose Portable Home Speaker
Bose Portable Home Speaker is ready to be used on the go.
Photo: Bose

The just-announced Bose Portable Home Speaker isn’t an everyday Bluetooth device. It also has Wi-Fi and, even better, supports AirPlay 2, making it cooperate much more closely with Apple devices.

This speaker offers 360 degree sound, and is designed for portability, with a built-in handle.