Laserlike acquisition boosts Apple’s AI capabilities

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The Laserlike app used machine learning to find relevant news articles.
The Laserlike app used machine learning to find relevant news articles.
Photo: Laserlike

Apple bought a small startup that created an app that used machine learning to auotomically find news articles users would be interested in.

The acquisition of Laserlike is expected to  bolster Apple’s artificial intelligence efforts.

Apple acquires trove of AI security camera patents

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Lighthouse
Lighthouse might have been ahead of its time.
Photo: Lighthouse

Lighthouse, a smart security camera maker that specialized in AI recognition, officially died at the end of 2018 but its tech is about to get a second chance thanks to Apple.

Apple recently acquired a big batch of patents from the failed startup. Lighthouse launched its security camera a year ago making it easier for users to sort through footage thanks to 3D depth sensing and AI features connected to an iOS app. Now it looks like Apple might incorporate some of those patents into Face ID.

Google Home tops Siri and HomePod in smart speaker test

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HomePod market share
Will you upgrade to a family plan?
Photo: Apple

Apple may have been late to the smart speaker game but its HomePod is showing signs it could one day outperform them all.

But only if Apple gives Siri the power.

In Loup Ventures annual smart speaker comparisons, Google Assistant understood all 800 questions and answered nearly 88 percent of them correctly. In its first Loup Ventures test, the HomePod with Siri at the helm misunderstood just three questions and managed to answer correctly nearly 75 percent of its queries.

Apple promotes new SVP of machine learning and AI

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John Giannandrea
John Giannandrea is Apple’s newest SVP.
Photo: Apple

Apple has promoted John Giannandrea to its executive team as senior vice president of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

Giannandrea, who joined Apple back in April of this year after eight years at Google, is responsible for Siri and the Core ML framework. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is “fortune to have John … driving our efforts in this critical area.”

Why HomePod’s ‘Hey Siri’ will blow you away

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Siri speaker
The HomePod's ability to hear at full volume is one of the most impressive feats.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple pulled back the curtain on some of the most complicated features of its HomePod smart speaker this morning with a new blog post that details the machine learning tech that goes into its ‘Hey Siri’ detection.

One of the biggest challenges with making a smart speaker is not only figuring out what to listen for but also what sounds to discard in the process. Apple’s engineers have come up with a number of interesting methods to make Siri work even when you’re blasting tunes our of the HomePod’s speakers.

Instagram uses AI to make app accessible to visually impaired users

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Instagram accessible
Instagram wants to be more accessible. Changes launched today help the visually impaired.
Photo: Instagram

Instagram will be more accessible to the visually impaired thanks to new changes the photo-sharing platform launched today.

“With more than 285 million people in the world who have visual impairments, we know there are many people who could benefit from a more accessible Instagram,” the company wrote on its Info Center page announcing two new tools.

Apple acquires AI startup with a focus on privacy

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Silk Labs
Silk Labs' privacy policy reads like it was written by Tim Cook.
Photo: Silk Labs

Apple has reportedly acquired an artificial intelligence startup that specializes in on-device machine learning software.

Silk Labs’ technology processes data without sending it to the cloud, which is a perfect fit for Apple’s privacy-conscious approach to AI. It’s not clear how much Cupertino paid for the company when the deal was struck earlier this year.

Hey Siri, find me a soulmate

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Siri as matchmaker
As if you have to ask
Photo: Apple

Tinder co-founder Sean Rad says advances in artificial intelligence could give Siri an exciting new role — matchmaker.

Apple’s virtual assistant is good at simple asks, like serving up the time, the weather forecast or the score from last night’s Warriors game. But the internet is loaded with stories, from frustrating to funny, about Siri’s fails. Siri might get to know your team, but your type?