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.

Siri sounds better in Britain after voice improvements

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Siri
Does Siri sound better to you?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has quietly updated the female British voice for Siri. The improvements can be heard today on HomePod and iOS devices.

The update comes just a few weeks after Apple updated the male British voice. It is believed the company could be working on improvements for many of Siri’s international voices.

Can a social media guru extinguish Siri’s tire fire of complaints?

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Siri as matchmaker
Apple is hiring someone to track what everyone says about Siri.
Photo: Apple

Corporation ISO very patient person to listen to endless complaints about its digital assistant. No phonies.

Apple really did post a job opening for someone to monitor what people are saying about Siri, with an eye to turning complaints into improvements to this beleaguered voice-driven assistant.

6 ways Samsung just leapfrogged Apple

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Samsung
Samsung's Unpacked event was actually pretty impressive.
Photo: Samsung

Samsung put Apple and the rest of the tech industry on notice today during its massive Unpacked event.

During the biggest tech event of 2019 so far, Samsung unveiled a slew of new smartphones, wearables, earbuds and more. Even though Samsung has a rep for copying Apple — and there was certainly a lot of that at Unpacked — the company is setting the tone for the rest of the industry. Samsung even leapfrogged Apple’s products in some ways.

Here are six things Apple should take note of.

Apple’s latest acquisition could give Siri a crucial boost

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Apple
The company that made Barbie a conversationalist has been bought by Apple.
Photo: ToyTalk

Apple’s latest acquisition could give Siri a better chance at competing against Amazon’s popular voice-power assistant, Alexa.

Pullstring, a San Francisco-based startup that specializes in helping developers design, prototype and deploy voice apps has reportedly been purchased by Apple. The company’s platform helps create voice apps for Alexa and Google Assistant, and will likely help Apple make more tools for Siri.

Apple seeds second beta of iOS 12.2 to devs

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iOS12
iOS 12.2 is bringing a bunch of new features to iPhone and iPad.
Photo: Apple

Apple is starting off February by serving up a fresh new beta for developers with the release of iOS 12.2 beta 2.

The new beta comes just over a week after Apple seeded the first build of iOS 12.2. That update brought Apple News support to testers in Canada, as well as new Downtime feature that lets you schedules periodically limit the number of apps you can access.

How to make Shortcuts give you a weather forecast on iPad

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iPad weather
Life’s a beach — without this iPad weather shortcut.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The iPad infamously still lacks a built-in weather app. There are plenty of ways around this — you can ask Siri, you can use the Maps app to see the weather anywhere, or you can wait for your iPhone to give you a lock-screen forecast every morning.

Today we add a new method. We’ll make a quick shortcut that gets the weather at your current location, and displays it as a notification.

HomePod in China turns Siri into a storyteller

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HomePod in China
Siri and HomePod will oblige children in China when they ask for a story.
Photo: Apple

HomePod has a feature that is only available in China and could prove popular with busy parents and the kid who just wants to hear a story.

Apple’s version of a smart speaker made its debut in China and Hong Kong on Jan. 18 with the ability to command “Siri, tell me a story.”

How to search for songs by lyrics in Apple Music

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Just look at that rick(shaw) roll!
Just look at that rick(shaw) roll!
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Do you have a snippet of a song in your head, and it’s driving you crazy? Did you forget to Shazam it when you heard it playing in that hipster boutique vegan-boots-and-artisanal-ramen store? Then you need Apple Music’s search by lyrics feature, which lets you find a song based on a few vaguely remembered snatches of verse.