Apple Music gets a ‘Voice Plan’ that costs just $4.99 a month

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Apple Music Voice Plan
Ideal for HomePod users on a budget.
Photo: Apple

Apple Unleashed event bug Apple Music is now more affordable for those who agree not to use buttons. A new “Voice Plan,” unveiled Monday during Apple’s big “Unleashed” event, lets you access the entire Apple Music catalog using only your voice for just $4.99 a month.

That’s half the price of a regular Apple Music subscription — and it might just be ideal for HomePod users.

Ecobee SmartThermostat is first third-party hardware to get Siri support

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The Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is the first of many third-party devices to get Siri voice support.
The Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is the first of many third-party devices to get Siri voice support.
Photo: Ecobee

As announced at Apple’s WWDC conference earlier this year, Siri voice support has come to the Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control — the first hardware not made by Apple to get it, with many others to follow. Ecobee said a new software update bringing the change rolls out over the coming weeks.

Today in Apple history: iPhone 4s opens for Siri-ous preorders

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iPhone 4s
The iPhone 4s was the last iPhone Steve Jobs directly worked on.
Photo: Apple

October 7: Today in Apple history: iPhone 4s preorders begin and they are Siri-ous October 7, 2011: Two days after the death of Steve Jobs, Apple opens preorders for its next-gen iPhone 4s.

The last iPhone that Jobs worked on directly, the 4s boasts a speedier A5 chip, improved 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording, and — most significantly — Apple’s new AI virtual assistant, Siri.

Today in Apple history: Siri debuts on iPhone 4s

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Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant
Siri had first been predicted by Apple back in the late 1980s.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

October 4: Today in Apple history: Siri debuts on iPhone 4s October 4, 2011: With the unveiling of the new iPhone 4s, Apple introduces the world to Siri.

A groundbreaking example of artificial intelligence in action, Siri’s debut fulfills a long-term dream at Apple. The company first predicted such a feature in the 1980s — with the Siri launch coming at almost the exact month Apple envisioned.

Siri loses a whole bunch of features and is now even less useful

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Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant
Not a lot, apparently.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Siri is widely considered the dumbest of the smart assistants (although I would argue that Samsung’s Bixby easily takes that crown) and it just got a little dumber. Apple has removed a whole bunch of useful Siri features that iPhone users — particularly those with vision impairment — relied on.

Siri can no longer play your voicemail messages, check your call history, send an email, and more. “Sorry, I can’t help with that” is the response that greets iPhone users who attempt to use the features that were available before iOS 15 made its public debut almost two weeks ago.

Design concept dreams of ‘HomePod TV’ and ‘HomePod Show’

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The HomePod TV would pair great audio with great TV.
The HomePod TV concept would pair great audio with great TV.
Photo: www.handy.abovergleich.ch designed by Eric Huismann

Apple’s original HomePod, the big smart speaker that predated the HomePod mini, lasted less than three years on the market. It never became a hit for the Cupertino tech giant. But a new design concept from a Swiss outfit imagines it coming back in two new forms.

Today in Apple history: Martin Scorsese ad makes Siri look like a superstar

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Scorsese Siri
"Hey Siri, am I here to f***ing amuse you?"
Photo: Apple

July 23: Today in Apple history: Martin Scorsese Apple ad makes Siri look like a superstar July 23, 2012: Looking for the perfect spokesman for its new virtual assistant Siri, Apple turns to Martin Scorsese, the legendary filmmaker behind some of Hollywood’s most violent gangster movies.

The new television commercial shows the director using Siri voice commands to juggle his busy schedule. One in a string of celebrity-studded Siri ads, it ranks among the best.

European Commission worries Apple could be future smart home ‘gatekeeper’

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Siri on HomePod mini
Siri is taking over our lives.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Smart home technology isn’t a massive focus of Apple’s. But the European Commission is nonetheless concerned that Apple could be one of the companies potentially able to engage in anticompetitive behavior in this area due to its outsized influence on the tech industry.

In preliminary investigation results published Wednesday, the EC raises concerns about the potential of “gatekeepers emerging” in this sector. The inquiry into Internet of Things (IoT) devices was launched in July 2020. It’s based on feedback from more than 200 different companies. Along with Apple, Amazon and Google are both mentioned as big players.