What a week it has been. Apple has definitely made the most of its time in the spotlight, grabbing the media’s attention and showing us that they can still innovate, be aggressive, and even listen to what users are asking for from time to time. While all may not be perfect, and there are still questions to answer, iOS 11 looks REALLY good, and the new iPad Pro features are a huge upgrade. As for the HomePod, let’s reserve judgement until we at lease see it in a closer to final form.
Beyond all the great software and hardware announcements, which I will get into in greater depth soon, there is other Apple news of note to look into. Let’s get to it.
This has been building since Apple’s acquisition of Beats in 2014, but after WWDC, I think things are starting to come into clearer focus. Apple is now transitioning from dominating the declining business of purchasing music to dominating multiple areas in the field. But it goes deeper than that. They are building toward something. I think they are currently moving their chess pieces across the board to set up a final checkmate on the big-label recording industry, which will in turn, squeeze competitors like Spotify in ways they will have difficulty combating.
In my recent article Taking Siri Seriously, I made the comment that if Apple was releasing a Siri-equipped speaker product into the world, then it would surely be a sign that all is now right with the world’s first mobile digital assistant. They wouldn’t make another “Maps” error. They wouldn’t blindly release another product like that into the world. As the afterglow of yesterday’s WWDC Keynote fades and the reality-distortion dissipates, now I’m not as convinced.
Apple’s massive 2 1/2 hour data dump certainty accomplished goal one of flipping the media’s script yesterday. ALL of the talk today is about what Apple is doing and how they are doing it. They absolutely NAILED that. However, at the end of the day, what did we really learn about Siri in iOS 11?
The iPad has been at a crossroads for a couple of years now. Since the original iPad Pro didn’t move the sales needle, it has felt a little like Apple has been marking time while they came up with a Plan B on how to jumpstart things. Part one came with the release of the rolled back, but less expensive iPad this Spring. While it was a solid device that fit a need in Apple’s tablet lineup, it was hard to tell too much based on such a modest start down a different path.
I have been anticipating writing an article of final predictions for what we will see at WWDC for a few weeks now. However, as sit here on the eve of Christmas for Apple fans, I find little point in doing so. Not only has every tech site and every Apple blog weighed in on this topic at this point, but pretty much every national medial outlet, as well. What’s the point in one more drop in a very full bucket?
Rather than go the path well travelled, I’m going to take a different look at WWDC and get into more of the “how” than the “what”. Allow me to explain myself. One of the recurring themes I see, especially in several of the articles from larger medial outlets, is a negative slant towards Apple’s current position. Despite their incredible stock performance and profitability, the emergence of new sources of revenue in wearables and services, and the coming release of a sure-fire hit in the next iPhone, the “what’s wrong with Apple” storyline is as reliable as the taxman coming to collect lately.
I’ve been using my Apple AirPods for around two weeks now, so I have gotten a pretty good feel for how they work at this point, and have figured out more of their strengths and weaknesses. All things considered, the experience has still been very good overall.
When Apple bought SRI International in 2010 and subsequently integrated the technology from their app Siri into iOS 5 in 2011, they took an early lead in the race to provide advanced voice assistance on mobile devices. However, as has been the case many other times when Apple took a step forward in the smartphone space, the competition quickly closed the gap. They caught up to the capacitive screen, the multi-touch interface, the Retina display, and eventually Siri, as well.
I was finally able to get my hands on a pair of Apple’s latest hard to find hit. If you are still looking for a set of AirPods without the three to four week wait, keep an eye on AT&T, website. When they get them in stock, they process the orders quickly and have free shipping in the US. I got mine two business days after ordering, so I was happy with the experience, and was glad to not have to pay a premium or wait a month to get them.
In my opinion, multitasking is the single biggest feature that has been added to the iPad since its more humble beginnings in 2010. While it was certainly possible to use earlier iPads as tools for creation, rather than just consumption, it was this feature that allowed users to take the greatest advantage of tablet’s the screen real estate and increasingly powerful processors. For me personally, this is the feature that makes my 12.9″ iPad Pro more than just an oversized tablet. As much as I love using the Apple Pencil, I use multitasking multiple times a day, every day.
There are two main methods for capturing text while using your iPhone. One way is by using Siri to carry out an ever growing variety of commands and tasks. The other method is through dictation accessed via your keyboard. While Siri is a perfectly capable dictation tool, and might be the preferred way to capture text by many, I have found that my favorite digital assistant especially shines when asked to answer questions and perform tasks. Dictation, however, is more of a quick and dirty way to collect your thoughts and have them transposed right onto your iPhone screen whenever you typically would desire to enter text in an app. Think of it as an alternative to typing. While a very helpful tool, there are some initial challenges to dictating effectively on your iPhone. The manner in which we speak doesn’t always translate exactly to how we write–or even how we collect our thoughts. As a result I’ve collected some tips to help you be the most efficient at using dictation.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Siri? A dictation assistant? A way to get help with directions? Someone to talk to and ask all sorts of ridiculous questions? Well, turns out, she is all that and so much more. When Apple introduced the “Hey Siri” feature in iOS 9 it increased the popularity of the service and made it a more personable interaction–as if you were having a conversation with a friend.
I have to admit, I’m a little old fashioned. I never have really taken full advantage of Hey Siri. Instead, most of the time I choose to physically interact with my phone rather than use voice commands to initiate actions. Perhaps it’s because I never took the time to discover all that Siri can do. When you launch Siri on your iOS device, but don’t initiate any dialogue right away, Apple pages through a series of lists that contain popular use cases. That’s good and well, but how useful is that for the average user–and will you really remember them in the future presented this way? Probably not.