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?

Pixel 3 camera taps into Google’s AI to top iPhone

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Pixel 3 camera
The Pixel 3 camera has an eye on the competition.
Photo: Google

Google called its new Pixel 3 “the best end-to-end photography experience” Tuesday and has adopted features and marketing strategies that made the iPhone a global success and camera industry game-changer.

But marketing and megapixels will not be where these two smartphone cameras do battle. The competition shifts to artificial intelligence and how it makes each phone camera perform.

AI basketball app gets trash-talked after Apple showcase

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HomeCourt
Logos in the lineup.
Screenshot: Hutch Kitchen/Twitter

A kitchenware company and an app for tracking shots on a basketball court couldn’t be more different. Yet, somehow the two wound up with nearly identical logos.

Such is the case for HomeCourt, whose shining moment Wednesday at the Steve Jobs Theatre got upstaged on social media after Australian company Hutch Kitchen pointed out the similarities.

New A12 Bionic chip makes 2018 iPhones into AI powerhouses

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A12 processor
The Neural Engine gives the iPhone a super smart brain.
Photo: Apple

Apple called the new iPhones‘ A12 Bionic chip “the smartest and most powerful chip ever in a smartphone.” And despite the company’s occasional hyperbole and frequent marketing wizardry, it’s not kidding around.

Here’s why the A12 is so exciting — and what that means for Apple’s Core ML machine learning platform.

Smartphones covered in camera lenses will change everything

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multi-camera smartphones
Take a picture or nine with this smartphone prototype from Light.
Photo: Light via Photo Rumors

Mobile phone photography has been through a mostly meaningless megapixel war. Now on to the next battle – the smartphone with the most cameras.

Apple, true to its playbook, will watch while other companies fire opening salvos with smartphones packing three or more lenses.