Weekly Round Up 9/7/18

 

 

Especially coming from a guy as corrupt at Ajit Pai…

The FCC chief’s call for cracking down on tech companies is not only laughable, it’s the ‘height of hypocrisy’

 

Here’s hoping one of them is designed to keep the Kardashians off the air…
10 Takeaways From Variety’s Entertainment and Tech Summit

 

The red tape alone is ging to take a millenium to get through…
A 22-year Apple veteran explains why Silicon Valley’s ‘fast fail’ approach won’t work with health tech

 

We were fools to think it could.

Now We Know Tech Won’t Save Us

 

Watson, you sneaky, little bastard…
IBM used NYPD surveillance cameras to develop facial recognition tech

 

If it helps produce more “People of Walmart”, it’s all good…
Exclusive: Walmart’s Tech Arm is Adding 100+ Jobs in Reston

 

Who needs eyesight when you’ve got Alexa & Siri?
Small screen, big problem: what tech is doing to your eyesight

 

I’m sorry, what did you say? I was checking my Facebook…

Google researchers say the tech industry has contributed to an ‘attention crisis’

Tales form the Orchard: What to expect from Apple’s September 12 ‘Gather round’ event

 

 

By Christian de Looper of Digital Trends

It’s that time of year again. Apple has sent out invitations for its annual September event, where we’ll likely see a new set of iPhone devices, a new Apple Watch, and possibly a range of other devices too. The event itself is set to take place on September 12 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, though no matter where you live you should be able to live-stream it for yourself.

What exactly will Apple announce? We’ve been following rumors surrounding all the upcoming products for the past year, and we’ve rounded them up into this short, handy guide. Here’s everything we expect to see at Apple’s “Gather Round” event.

THREE IPHONES

Last year, Apple unveiled the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus. This year, rumors suggest it will announce three different models again. Apple is expected to fully adopt the edge-to-edge design seen on the iPhone X for all models of the iPhone (including the notch). Thankfully, they won’t all cost $1,000. Apple will reportedly release two successors to the iPhone X, dubbed the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and they will be sized at 5.8 inches and 6.5 inches. Apple will also release a 6.1-inch model, which is expected to be the cheapest of the lot. It will also have an edge-to-edge display with a notch, but the main difference will stem from the use of a LCD screen instead of OLED used on the other two.

The new iPhone XS devices are expected to arrive in a new gold color model, alongside an updated processor, eSIM support, a potential Lightning to USB Type-C cable, and more. The prices are rumored to range from $650 to $1,000.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 4

Just like it did last year, Apple is expected to release a new Apple Watch alongside the new series of iPhones. The Apple Watch Series 4 will retain many of the features of the Apple Watch Series 3, but it’s expected to include a display that’s larger by as much as 15 percent — making it an edge-to-edge display, like that on the iPhone X.

Other rumors about the watch indicate Apple may do away with the Wi-Fi model altogether — leaving only the LTE model (you will likely still be able to use Wi-Fi without paying for LTE with this model). It may also feature a UV sensor, and will run Apple’s latest version of watchOS 5.0.

MACBOOK AIR

Apple has long been expected to release a new low-cost MacBook, and rumors indicate the company will introduce a refresh of the MacBook Air. The new device is expected to feature Intel’s 8th-generation processors, along with a larger display. The updated computer will reportedly get a 13-inch Retina display, and will likely feature modern ports, like USB-C.

Not much else is known about the new laptop, except for the fact that it will most likely come at a starting price of around $1,000. It’s also not totally certain the new MacBook Air will be released at this September event. Instead, it could show up in October.

MAC MINI

Apple may also be planning a long-awaited refresh of the Mac Mini — and it’s about time, considering the computer was last updated in 2014. There will likely be quite a few performance upgrades. Apple will probably adopt Intel’s eighth-generation chips for the computer, and may do away with outdated hard drives in favor of only solid-state options. On top of that, while Apple may not completely revamp the design, it will likely at least update the port selection on the computer to include a few USB-C ports.

When it comes to pricing, the new Mac Mini may start in the $1,000 price range, and will range up from there. Like the MacBook Air, however, there’s no certainty that the Mac Mini will show up at the September 12 event — it may well instead be released later in the year.

IPAD PRO 2018

Another rumor to have popped up in recent days is that Apple will update the iPad Pro. It’ll be more than just a spec-bump too — rumors indicate Apple will give the iPad Pro the iPhone X treatment, with slimmer bezels around the screen, as well an updated A-series processor, and perhaps even a little more RAM.

With the new design, there may be no more home button, which means Face ID may replace Touch ID. That may be a double-edged sword, though, as rumors suggest Face ID might only work in vertical mode — meaning you won’t be able to dock the iPad to a keyboard and unlock it with your face. Apple may move the Smart Connector to the bottom of the iPad, so manufacturers may need to build new keyboards.

AIRPOWER

Apple officially announced the AirPower charger almost a full year ago, but the charger has yet to be released. When it is, AirPower will be able to charge up to three devices at a time — meaning in the evening you can plop down your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods to charger — and they’ll be good to go in the morning. It’s using unique technology that will be able to identify the products and provide the correct amount of energy needed.

While we’re not completely certain AirPower will see the light of day at Apple’s upcoming event, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see it.

OPERATING SYSTEM RELEASES

Alongside new hardware, Apple will also release new software to the public. A few of those releases are all but definite. There’s iOS 12, which will be released likely on September 12 itself. You can check out our hands-on review for all the details on what’s new.

Next up is watchOS 5, which is also likely to be pushed to Apple Watch users on September 12 or soon after. The new operating system boasts a few improvements to watchOS and how it works, including better health and fitness tracking, Walkie Talkie mode, Siri Shortcuts, and more. On top of that, Siri will be better at listening to your needs — you’ll no longer need to say “Hey Siri” to activate her. Instead, simply hold your wrist up to your mouth, and Siri should be listening.

Last but not last is macOS, which is being updated to macOS Mojave. It’s expected that the new macOS will be released alongside new Apple computers — meaning it’s not a certainty that the new operating system will be released at this event. Still, if it is, macOS users will enjoy a number of new features, including a new Dark Mode, a revamped App Store, and Stacks, which are automatically arranged groups of files on the desktop.

 

What are you looking forward to the most from Apple’s upcoming Media Event? Sound off in the comments below!!

How to: Teach Siri to Pronounce Names, Learn Nicknames

Need to teach Siri how to pronounce a name or understand a nickname in your contacts list? You can train her to better understand your commands on iOS.

 

By Lance Whitney of PCMag.com

Are you tired of Siri mangling the names of people in your contact list? Siri can get vexed and perplexed by names that aren’t easy to pronounce, but you can fix her mistakes so your friendly, neighborhood voice assistant learns the right way to speak the names of family, friends, and other folks.

Siri can also get confused when you try to call or text someone in your contact list when you try to use a nickname. You can train Siri about pronunciations and nicknames on your iPhone or iPad, but the process will need to be repeated for both devices. Luckily it works the same no matter what you’re using.

Pronounce First Name

Let’s say you’ve asked Siri to call or send an email or text message to someone, and in so doing, Siri mispronounces the name. Activate Siri again and say: “You pronounced it wrong.” Siri asks how you pronounce the person’s first name. Tell her, and she’ll display a list of options, asking you to choose the right one. Tap on each option to hear how the name will be pronounced. If none of the options sound right, tap on the link to “Tell Siri again.” Siri asks you to say the name again, then displays another list of options. Again, tap on each one to hear it and then tap on Select to choose the best one.

Pronounce Last Name

Next, Siri asks how you pronounce the person’s last name. Pronounce the name for Siri. She displays the list of options. Tap on each one to hear it. No good? Tap on “Tell Siri again” and repeat the name. Tap on each of the new options and tap Select to choose the best one. If the person has a middle name, Siri will ask you how to pronounce that as well.

Teach Siri With a Direct Command

Alternatively, you can say: “Hey Siri, learn to pronounce name of contact.” Siri goes through the same steps, asking how to pronounce the first name and then the last name by prompting you to select the best option for each.

Enter Phonetic Spelling

If you can’t get Siri to pronounce the name by voice, then you may have better results diving into the person’s contact information and spelling the name phonetically. Launch the Contacts app, open the person’s entry, and tap on Edit in the upper-right corner. Swipe down the contact page until you see the link to add field. Tap on that link. At the Add Field page, tap on the entry for Phonetic first name.

 

Finalize Phonetic Spelling

In the Phonetic first name field, type the name phonetically as best as you can. You may want to look up the name in a dictionary or search online to see how it’s spelled phonetically. Swipe down the screen, tap on add field, and tap the field for Phonetic last name. Type the last name phonetically in the appropriate field. Tap Done. You can then ask Siri to show you contact information for that person, and Siri will now pronounce the full name.

Pronouncing a Company

You can extend this process beyond a person’s name to the name of a company. The contact information for a company includes a field for Phonetic company name. Add that field. Type the name phonetically, and Siri should learn the right way to pronounce it.

Nicknames

What if their names are pronounced correctly, but Siri is having trouble telling people apart. This is where nicknames become handy.

Let’s say you ask Siri to call or text someone by saying his or her first name, for example, “call John,” and there’s more than one John in your contact list. Siri will ask which John, displaying and speaking the possible choices.

If you want to avoid all that, simply giving the contact’s last name will allow you to identify the correct contact quicker. As a warning, this method works best for last names that are different from the first names of other contacts. If you have more than one contact with the same last name, Siri will still ask you to specify the correct person.

Set a Relationship

Maybe you want to call or text a family member or relative but want to refer to that person by the relationship rather than his or her name. Here, you have a few options. Say: “Hey Siri, call Dad.” The first time you do this, Siri asks for your father’s name. Give her the name, and Siri then asks if you want to remember that person as your father. Say yes. From then on, ask Siri to “Call Dad” or “Call my father,” and she’ll know who to contact.

 

Set a Relationship With a Direct Command

You can also give a nickname to a specific person based on your relationship by explaining it to Siri. Say: “Siri, wife’s name is my wife” or “husband’s name is my husband” or “son’s name is my son.” Siri asks if you want to remember that the person you named is your wife or husband or son. Answer yes, and Siri records the relationship in your entry in the Contacts app. You can extend this to friends, cousins, doctors, dentists, and other people in your life.

Manually Set Relationship

Alternatively, you can go directly to your entry in the Contacts app to create a nickname. Launch Contacts and open your own entry. Tap on Edit. Swipe down the screen and tap on the button for “add related name.” Tap on the term that best describes the relationship, e.g., mother, father, brother, sister, spouse, manager. Then tap on the info button next to Related Name and select the contact you want to associate with the term you selected.

Set Custom Label

If none of the existing terms are a good match, tap the entry at the bottom to “Add Custom Label.” Type the term you want to use, such as Accountant. Tap Done. Then tap on the Info button next to Related Name and select the contact name for your accountant. Tap Done.

Remove a Nickname

What if you need to change or remove a nickname? No problem. You can tell Siri: “Joe Smith is no longer my accountant” or “Jane Doe is no longer my boss.” Siri asks if you want her to remember that information. Tap or say yes. If the nickname is saved in your entry in the Contacts app, just edit your entry and tap on the Delete button to remove the nickname and relationship.

 

How do you feel about Siri’s ability to learn? Sound off in the comments below!

Tales from the Orchard: What would Steve Jobs think of today’s Apple?

 

Originally posted on ZDNet

Steve Jobs was never one to leave anyone in any doubt as to what was on his mind, and thanks to hundreds of hours of keynotes, speeches, and interviews, we can get an insight into what he might think about the current state of the company he founded.

 

Still no next big thing

“One more thing…” — Steve Jobs

No quote excited Apple fans than this one. Those three simple words launched a number of world-changing Apple products.

 

Lack of focus

“Focusing is about saying ‘No.'” — Steve Jobs

The iPhone started out as a simple idea — a device that reinvented the smartphone. All a buyer needed to do was decide how much storage capacity they needed — 4, 8, or 16 gigabytes — and they were an iPhone owner.

Jump forward a decade and buyers are faced with eight different iPhones in numerous storage capacities and finishes.

 

AirPods

 

“The problem with Bluetooth headphones is that it’s not just recharging your iPod, you have to recharge your headphones too. People hate it. There are quality issues — the bandwidth isn’t high enough, and even if it does get there some day, people don’t want to recharge their headphones.” — Steve Jobs

While there’s little doubt that Bluetooth is now more than capable of delivering crystal clear audio, Apple’s solution to how to charge the AirPods would have no doubt upset Jobs. Not only do AirPod owners need to pop the AirPods into a case to charge, they also have to remember to charge up the case itself!

Dongles, dongles, and more dongles

 

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” — Steve Jobs

Apple is clearly on a mission to simplify its Mac lineup, and one way it wants to do that is by eliminating as many ports as possible and standardizing on a single port where possible, as it has done with the new MacBook Pro.

Problem is, while one port might work for the iPhone and iPad, when it comes to a computer it’s a real pain, and it forces many users to carry with them an array of different dongles and accessories (such as this Satechi Type-C USB 3.0 3-in-1 combo hub) in order to be able to get work done.

Dumb solutions to simple problems

 

“You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog s— for frosting.” — Steve Jobs

Apple employs some of the smartest people on the planet, and the company is capable of doing wonderful things.

But it’s also come out with some howlers. For example, the battery case for the iPhone that has a charging indicator on the inside where you can’t see it. Or a rechargeable mouse that has the charging port on the bottom. Or a rechargeable pencil that has a tiny cap that’s easily lost.

These are just the sort of design howlers that you don’t expect from Apple.

Bogged down iOS

 

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” — Steve Jobs

When the iPhone was unveiled a decade ago the operating system (then called iPhone OS, the iOS name didn’t appear until 2010) was sleek and simple. Everything was a couple of taps away and the user interface was intuitive and a snap to use.

Fast-forward a decade and things have changed dramatically. While iOS 11 retains some of the look and feel of the early iPhone OS, Apple has bolted on, shoehorned in, and otherwise added to the mobile operating system so much that the once elegant and streamlined platform has become a kludgy and awkward mess.

Notification panels and popups litter the interface, gaining access to often-needed features now require users to memorize a number of different gestures, and the Settings app is now a mess to rival the Windows Control Panel at its worst.

Siri is still so dumb

 

“Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” — Steve Jobs

Apple acquired the technology behind its Siri voice assistant back in 2010 and integrated the technology into the iPhone 4S in late 2011, and since then it has spread from the iPhone to the iPad and the Mac.

But over that time Siri has gone from being “Wow!” to “Meh.” Put Siri in a room with Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Now and you quickly discover just how dumb and gimmicky Siri actually is. The voice recognition is poor, and the range of things you can do, and the flexibility to ask questions in a natural way, is very basic compared to other voice assistant offerings.

Apple’s massive R&D budget

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” — Steve Jobs

Apple’s R&D budget has increased over tenfold since the iPhone was released in 2007, and yet the company hasn’t come up with anything that comes close to the success of the iPhone.

Apple Pencil

 

“Who wants a stylus. You have to get ’em and put ’em away, and you lose ’em. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus.” — Steve Jobs

I know many would argue that the Apple Pencil is more than a stylus, but many of problems with the stylus — finding it, putting it away, and losing it — haven’t really been solved by Apple.

The iPad’s rapid decline

 

“What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes.” — Steve Jobs

The iPad was Apple’s plan to disrupt the tablet market and put a stepping-stone between the iPhone and the Mac. And it looked like it would work. But in seven years sales have gone from showing strong growth initially to hitting a peak a few years back to now a rapid decline.

It could be said that the problem with the iPad is that consumers and enterprise buyers have lost interest in tablets, and that it’s only natural that sales would tank. But in that case how has Apple managed to keep Mac sales strong in the face of horrible PC sales, or managed to return the iPhone to growth?

Evolution over revolution

 

“I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes.” — Steve Jobs

Over the past few years we’ve seen a lot of incremental, evolutionary updates from Apple, ranging across hardware and software, but there’s been little in the way of revolutionary changes. Certainly nothing that compares with those big gambles that Apple took while it was under the leadership of Jobs.

Following, instead of leading

 

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” — Steve Jobs

Apple used to look forward, but now the company feels like it is increasingly looking sideways at what its competitors are up to, in particular the premier Android device maker, Samsung.

Samsung has a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” attitude when it comes to hardware, and over the past few years we’ve seen Apple take a similar approach, especially with the iPhone. Some of these moves have been successful (for example, it’s clear that there was indeed a pent-up demand for larger and more expensive iPhones) while others have flopped (the iPhone 5C springs irresistibly to mind here).

 

Share your favorite Steve Jobs comments in the comments below!

Weekly Round Up 3/23/18

 

 

Apple’s looking pretty good right now, huh?
Facebook scandal could push other tech companies to tighten data sharing

Facebook may have just pushed our society back to the dark ages where tech is concerned.
It’s Not Just Facebook. The Big Tech Revolt Has Begun, Says Nomura

#deletefacbeook
The new tech divide: social media vs. everyone else

I thought I did. I didn’t.
Want to #DeleteFacebook? You Can Try

Um, they’ve never been held accountable for anything until now. How can it get worse?
Big Tech’s accountability-avoidance problem is getting worse

After the story of what Facebook did broke this week, there was no way this bill wasn’t going to pass…
Senate passes sex trafficking bill in defeat for weakened tech industry

I weep for our future.
People were asked to name women tech leaders. They said “Alexa” and “Siri”


Right, because they’ve proven so trustworthy with normal data….(eye roll)

Tech company using facial recognition technology to combat revenge porn

 

Oh, good. We found him.
This White Tech Guy Has an Idea to Make Tech Less White

Weekly Round Up 3/16/18

 

 

Will we see a $1500 iPhone later this year because of it? That’s the real question.
Trump’s tech tariffs may lead to higher prices for US consumers.

What do you want to bet Trump tries to impose tariffs on blockchains next?
Huawei Is Building Tech That Can Stress Test Blockchains.


Um…Denny’s should just focus on not serving me a plate of salmonella with a side of racism.

Every Restaurant Wants to Be a Tech Company Now—Even Denny’s

 

As they should…
Tech’s biggest leaders pay tribute to Stephen Hawking

Which is why I have my Siri set to be male and British.
Fun fact of the day: Voice recognition tech is naturally sexist

I feel like this is not really news. I assumed all facilities that size are using Facial Recognition as a form of security. Then again, maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of Homeland.
Madison Square Garden Has Been Secretly Using Face Recognition Tech: Report

Silicon Valley will blame our Tech Addiction on anything if it’ll take the scrutiny off of them.
Has dopamine got us hooked on tech?

Yeah, I think I’ll wait for version 2.0…
A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is “100 percent fatal”

How to: Set a Timer on HomePod

 

 

By Juli Clover of Mac Rumors

HomePod has built-in Siri functionality, which means it can be used to do a lot of the same things that can be done with an iPhone or an iPod, like setting an alarm or a timer.

If your HomePod is in the kitchen, setting a timer while cooking can be useful, and it’s as simple as using a single Siri command.

All you need to say is “Hey Siri, set a timer for X amount of time”

You can set a timer for a select number of minutes or hours, with a maximum timer limit of 24 hours. If you ask Siri to set a timer for longer than 24 hours, Siri will suggest you use a Reminder instead.

If you need to know how much time is remaining on the timer, you can ask Siri a question like “Hey Siri, how much time is left on the timer?” and Siri will give you a time update.

When the time is up, the HomePod will play a sound. To stop the timer sound, you can either tap the top of the HomePod or ask Siri to stop it.

Turning Off the Timer

At any point while the timer is running, you can ask Siri to turn it off with a command like “Hey Siri, turn off the timer” or “Hey Siri, pause the timer.”

You can also change the timer countdown with a command like “Hey Siri, change the timer to 10 minutes.”

Timer Limitations

Unfortunately, you can only set one timer at a time. If you attempt to set a second timer while the first timer you set is still running, Siri will say “A timer is already running at x minutes. Would you like to replace it?”

There’s also no way to view or manage your HomePod timers on an iOS device like there is with alarms — timers on HomePod all handled via voice with Siri.

 

Do you have a favorite HomePod Tip? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to: Use Type to Siri on Your Mac

 

 

By Charlie Sorrel of Cult of Mac

Type to Siri isn’t just for iOS 11. You can also turn on this super-useful feature on your Mac if it’s running macOS High Sierra. Type to Siri lets you do everything you can with normal Siri — call people, send iMessages, look stuff up on the web, do math, set reminders, and so on — only you type the command into a box instead of saying it.

Type to Siri is classified as an accessibility feature, but it’s useful for anyone who works in a busy office, or just feels like a dork when they talk to their Mac.

How to enable Type to Siri on Mac

 

To enable Type to Siri, head to the System Preferences, found under Apple Menu>System Preferences, and click the Accessibility icon. Then, in the sidebar, scroll down to find the Siri icon, and click it.

Here you’ll find a single checkbox: Enable Type to Siri. Click that and you just switched Siri from a spoken interface, to a written one. Now you can do all the neat keyboard tricks that work with Type to Siri on iOS.

Add a keyboard shortcut to activate Siri

To get the most from Type to Siri on the Mac, you should set a keyboard shortcut to activate it. Otherwise, you’ll have to mouse up to the top left of the menubar and click the Siri icon every time you want to use it. This is done in the Siri preferences, found at Apple Menu>System Preferences>Siri. You can also get to this panel quickly by clicking the shortcut button in the previous Accessibility section.

Here, you can choose whether to show Siri in the menubar, as well as picking the language, and other settings. The one we’re interested in the is Keyboard Shortcut. Click this, and pick a shortcut. if you don’t fancy any of the suggestions, just click Customize… and then press the key you’d like to use. On a desktop Mac, one of the spare Function keys is a good choice.

Now, whenever you want to use Siri, hit the keyboard shortcut, and type your command or query. For some suggestions fo what you can do with Type to Siri, check out out Type to Siri on iOS article, which is full of great tips.

 

 

What do think of the Type to Siri feature? Sound off in the Comments below!

Tips & Tricks: 20 + Must-Know Home Pod Tips

 

By Jeff Benjamin of 9to5Mac

If you’re an Apple Music subscriber who’s all in on the Apple ecosystem, then the HomePod is a compelling smart speaker. Not only does it sound excellent, but it has Siri built in, which can do things like control your music and control smart home accessories.

HomePod isn’t yet as “smart” as Google Home products with Google Assistant, or Amazon products with Alexa, but it has loads of potential, and already features many built in conveniences. Did you recently purchase a HomePod? In this hands-on video, we’ll walk through some of our top must-know tips for new HomePod users.

How to access HomePod settings

 

To access HomePod settings, open the Home app, tap the Home tab, long press on the HomePod tile, and tap the Details button in the bottom right-hand corner.

How to access and rename HomePod

Although each HomePod takes on the identity of the room its in, if you have multiple HomePods in the same room, giving them a unique name may be a good idea. To rename your HomePod, open its settings, and tap the name field at the top of the screen.

How to talk to Siri

There are two ways to invoke Siri. You can simply say ‘Hey Siri’ or you can long press anywhere on the HomePod touch panel and Siri will respond.

Keep in mind that when talking to Siri via Hey Siri, you don’t have to wait for Siri to respond before issuing your command.

If you make your command a part of the initial Hey Siri command, you will have more success controlling HomePod.

So instead of saying:

Hey Siri…. <wait for response> what’s the weather today?

Say:

Hey Siri, what’s the weather today?

How to disable ‘Hey Siri’

 

Disabling Hey Siri is easy, and can be done directly via the HomePod settings using the Hey Siri toggle. You can also disable Hey Siri by asking HomePod to do so via Siri.

Simply say:

Hey Siri, disable Hey Siri.

Siri will ask you to confirm with a yes before disabling Hey Siri. If you wish to enable Hey Siri again, you’ll need to do so directly from the HomePod Settings, or by manually invoking Siri using the HomePod’s touch controls.

How to control HomeKit accessories

HomePod can be used as a hub to control most HomeKit accessories like smart lights and thermostats. Simply say something like:
Hey Siri, turn on my string lights.

You can also use Siri to control HomeKit scenes. For example, say:

Hey Siri, goodnight.

How to set alarms on HomePod

 

 

Keep in mind that HomePod alarms are separate from the alarms you set on your iOS device. There are two ways to set an alarm with HomePod. The first way is to use Siri:

Hey Siri, Set an alarm for 8:00 AM.

You can also venture directly into the Home App, tap the HomePod tile, and tap the Alarms button in the bottom left hand corner.

How to play music with HomePod

 

The easiest way to play music on HomePod is to simply ask Siri. Just say:

Hey Siri, play <name of song, album or playlist>

Keep in mind that you can only play music Apple Music, iTunes Match, iCloud Music Library and iTunes Purchases via your voice.

How to adjust HomePod volume

 

There are several ways to go about adjusting volume with HomePod. For starters, you can use the touch controls to incrementally adjust volume up or down. You can also long press on the + or – buttons to quickly adjust volume in either direction.

Of course, you can also ask Siri to adjust volume as well. Some valid commands include, Hey Siri…
Set volume to max.
• Mute volume.
• Increase volume by 50%.
• Set volume to 10.
• Set volume to 85.

How to control music playback

 

You can use Siri to control music playback on HomePod. Simply say:

Hey Siri, <play/pause, skip, go back>.

The HomePod’s touch controls can also be used to control music playback, much like the EarPods inline remote controls.

• A single press of the touch panel will play/pause.
• A double press will skip to the next song.
• A triple press will go back to the previous song.

You can also pause and play music directly from the Home app. Simply open the Home app, and tap on the HomePod tile to pause or play music playback.

How to play similar music on HomePod

 

If you’re enjoying the currently playing song, simply say:
Hey Siri, play more songs like this.

Or you can say something like:

Hey Siri, make play the whole album.
Or:
Hey Siri, make a station from this song.

How to add a song to your library using Siri

If you’d like to save a now playing song to your music library, say:

Hey Siri, add this song to my library.

How to play Podcasts on HomePod

You can playback your favorite podcasts on HomePod by saying something like:

Hey Siri, play the latest episode of 9to5Mac’s Happy Hour.

Request the latest news from Siri

Hey Siri, what’s the latest news?

You can change your news source by saying:

Hey Siri, switch to (CNN, NPR, Fox News, or Washington Post)

How to add a song to Up Next using Siri

To keep the music playing, use the Up Next feature to queue up songs to play next. Say Hey Siri…
Add ‘Hotel California’ to Up Next.

If you’d like to check which song is queued to play next, say:
Hey Siri, what song is up next?

Access HomePod Now Playing from Control Center

Although it’s not very discoverable, it’s possible to control and view details about the currently playing song directly from an eligible device, like an iPhone, on the same network.

To do so, invoke Control Center, and long press on the Music widget. Scroll to your HomePod, and you should see the currently playing song. Tap on the HomePod to expand the Now Playing controls, which will allow you to play/pause, skip, and go back to the previous song.

You can also use the HomePod Now Playing controls to adjust playback volume directly.

How to fully control Apple Music on HomePod from an iOS device

It’s possible to fully control Apple Music, including selecting additional songs, and queueing up music, directly from an iOS device on the same Wi-Fi network as HomePod.

There are two ways to do so:

The first way is to invoke the HomePod Now Playing interface as described in the previous step, and tap on the album artwork to open the Music app. From there it’s possible to control your music just like you would when playing music directly on an iOS device.

The second way to access full HomePod music controls is to open the Music app, and tap the AirPlay button at the bottom of the Now Playing interface. Once you do, you will be able to access the HomePod, and control music playback directly.

Share the Up Next queue

 

One cool thing about controlling HomePod from an iOS device using the music app is that you, or anyone else on the same Wi-Fi network with Apple Music can contribute to the Up Next queue.

Simply access the HomePod controls as described in the previous steps, long press/3D Touch on a song, album or playlist, and select Play Next. This allows multiple people to contribute to the Up Next queue, which is great for parties.

How to transfer a phone call to HomePod

Although you can’t initiate a phone call from HomePod, it is possible to transfer a call to HomePod to continue a conversation. While on a phone call, tap the audio destination button in the Phone app interface, and select HomePod.

You’ll know when HomePod is hosting a phone call by the green Siri indicator on top of the Touch Panel.

How to output sound via Apple TV

There are several ways to go about connecting the Apple TV to HomePod for audio output. The easiest way is to simply press and hold the Play button on the Siri Remote while on the Apple TV Home screen. Doing so will invoke an interface, shown in the photo above, that allows you to quickly select audio output.

You can also go to Settings → Video and Audio → Audio Output and select the HomePod as output. Other apps, like the Music app, allow you to select audio output options directly as well.

How to control Apple TV playback features

One of the major benefits of outputting sound from Apple TV to HomePod is that it surfaces a limited amount of voice controls. While watching content, you can control playback via HomePod using the following Hey Siri commands:
Hey Siri, play/pause.
• Hey Siri, skip ahead <amount of time>.
• Hey Siri, go back <amount of time>.

In the future I imagine that Apple will work on fleshing out Apple TV voice control via HomePod to be more closely aligned to what’s possible via the Siri Remote. But even now, in this limited state, using HomePod to control the Apple TV playback experience is pretty awesome.

How to AirPlay to HomePod from Mac

To AirPlay all sounds coming from your Mac, you should enable the Show volume in menu bar option located in System Preferences → Sound. Once you do, you’ll be able to easily select your Mac’s sound output destination, which includes the HomePod, by clicking on the Volume button in the menu bar.

How to AirPlay to multiple HomePods using AirFoil

Users will be able to facilitate stereo pairing with two HomePods once AirPlay 2 launches in a future iOS/HomePod software update. For now, it’s possible to enable “stereo” playback via AirFoil, a paid Mac utility. It’s not exactly what Apple had in mind with AirPlay 2, but it’s an interesting workaround until stereo pairing launches alongside iOS 11.3 in the near future.

How to reset the HomePod

 

There are two ways to go about resetting the HomePod. The easy way is to venture into HomePod settings via the Home app. Once there, you’ll find a Remove Accessory option at the bottom of the screen.

The second way to reset the HomePod, and the method that you’ll need to use if resetting via the Home app fails, is to do so directly from the HomePod itself.

Step 1: Unplug the HomePod power cable.
Step 2: Plug in the HomePod, and after three seconds elapse, tap and hold the touch surface.
Step 3: Continue to hold the touch surface, and you should see the touch control status indicator turn red. Continue holding the touch surface until you hear three beeps.

The HomePod will then reset, allow it to be reconfigured from scratch.

Conclusion

There are many more Siri commands that you can utilize to control HomePod. What are some of your favorite commands?

What other HomePod-related tips do you have to share? Sound off in the comments below with your feedback.

Tales from the Orchard: Apple Needs to Make Siri Great at Something.

 

 

By JHROGERSII of iPad Insight.com

With the HomePod showing up on my doorstep next Friday, I’ve been doing some thinking about Siri lately. Why is the overall impression of Apple’s digital assistant so negative? There are recent surveys and tests showing it as being competitive with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana in some areas. There is real evidence that many “normal” users aren’t as dissatisfied with it as we in the tech community and the “Apple bubble” are. So what is the problem? Where is the disconnect?

Consistency is Key

I think the problem with the general perception of Siri is twofold. First, I have been begging for Apple to unify Siri across its platforms and make its feature set consistent from device to device. Unfortunately, not only has that not happened, but now we have yet another unique Siri implementation on the way that will be specific to the HomePod.

Users shouldn’t have to remember that Siri on Apple TV can only handle media requests and HomeKit, or that Siri on the Mac can save a list of previous responses, but can’t talk to HomeKit devices. Why can’t we get the saved Siri results from the Mac at least on the iPad? Now we have an intelligent speaker that won’t work for a lot of common Siri queries that we can perform on the iPhone we will use to set it up. Why Apple? Why? None of this makes any sense at all. All it takes is Siri not coming through or confusing a user a few times for them to give up on it and move on.

One positive is that I’m certainly not the only one talking about this. I was very happy to hear Rene Ritchie of iMore also discussing making Siri consistent across all Apple platforms during Monday’s Vector podcast. He was also advocating for Apple to make Siri a cloud-based service that works across all devices, which would also be a very welcomed addition. This could still be done while maintaining users’ privacy, so Apple shouldn’t try to hide behind that excuse anymore.

While many of us have been asking about this for a while now, the fact is that Mr Ritchie has eyes and ears inside of Apple and may actually be able to exert some influence on the situation. If he is brining it up, at least it is likely to be heard within the glass walls of Apple Park. I mean, the guy was able to get an Instagram pic with Tim Cook at a hockey game, right? That’s a lot closer than most of us will ever get.

Make Siri Great…For the First Time

Even as an Apple fan, I have no problem admitting that Siri has NEVER been great at anything. I, like most people, gave it a pass at release because it was new and different. However, when Apple didn’t improve it or truly move it forward after several years, most people lost their patience with it. I have still use it often for basic tasks, such as reading messages, creating alarms, and placing phone calls. However, we are a long way down the road from those tasks being impressive.

In my opinion, for all of the things Siri does, the biggest problem is that Apple never focused in and made it great at any of them. Some of its features, such as entering or reading off appointments or reminders, or setting timers, are very good and pretty consistent. The ability to ask Siri to remind me about a phone call, email, voicemail, or web page that is on the screen is also very useful (for those who know the feature exists).

However, I wouldn’t qualify any of the above features as “great,” because there are still times when they break down. For example, Siri will just stop recognizing the “Remind me about this” command on occasion, and ask me what I want to be reminded about. When this happens, I have to reboot my iPhone to get the feature back online. That just makes me shake my head, because this is a really useful feature that I take advantage of often. It is two years old now, so this really shouldn’t be happening anymore.

Unfortunately, these features are still the best that Apple has to offer with Siri, and they still have glaring issues. Then you get into the real problem areas. Dictation still comes and goes and struggles mightily with proper names and context. Asking Siri questions often just results in a web search that will quickly disappear from the screen. Trying to use context between actions will sometimes work and sometimes just break down. Combine the failures with the lack of consistency and shortage of and restrictions on third party integrations and you have too many pitfalls for users to fall into.

What is the difference?

So what’s the real difference between Apple on the one hand, and Google and Amazon on the other? Both of their assistants have legitimate issues and shortcomings, as well. Google doesn’t play much better with third parties than Apple, and in some cases, Assistant is actually harder for them to work with (although this year’s CES shows that Google is addressing this). As for Alexa, just try using it on a smartphone or other non-Amazon hardware. Amazon has the same issues as Apple with sub-par mics that aren’t set up to be used with a voice assistant.

While Amazon has given third party developers an open door, Alexa doesn’t allow for any contextual awareness with its “Skills.” Users have to memorize set commands and queries, and if they forget, their requests don’t work. I have heard Echo users who are otherwise very happy with Alexa curse it over this shortcoming. Even the most favored voice assistant of the moment has its issues if you get past the hype.

So, both of Apple’s primary competitors in voice assistants have legitimate shortcomings that users are very aware of. Why do they get a pass on them while Apple doesn’t? It is because both Assistant and Alexa are legitimately great at one or more things that users find very useful. If you ask Google Assistant questions, it will give you direct correct answers very quickly. It will translate on the fly. It will search, recognize and digitize written text. Oh, and it has a very similar feature set across the board where it is available. Google handles this better than any other assistant by far, and frankly, no one else is even close right now.

As for Amazon, they doubled down on making the basics near perfect. The Echo devices have multiple beam-forming mics that do an impressive job of picking up your voice and accurately parsing your requests, even in the presence of background noise. The Alexa experience may have a steep drop-off on third party hardware, but most people are using it on Amazon’s because of how inexpensive and easily available they have made it. Their system’s combined ease of use has made people comfortable using voice assistants. And again, like Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa feature set is very consistent, no matter what device you are using it on.

Along that same line, another key for Amazon (that Google wisely copied ahead of Apple) is that they made a device that put the voice assistant in a different context. Many people are still self-conscious about using Siri and other assistants in public, especially when using a headset or AirPods. While this has become more commonplace over the last decade, it can still look pretty odd watching someone “talk to themselves” while walking down the street. There are a lot of people who are too self-conscious to do that.

The beauty of the Echo is that it takes the voice assistant and makes it available throughout a room. You don’t have to carry a phone around and be subject to the limitations of its mics. “Hey Siri” works, but it is locked to a device that is meant to be with you, not across the room. The Watch is great if you have one, but it isn’t capable of making all of the same voice responses to your queries yet. The Echo took the genie out of the bottle by making a device that is dedicated to monitoring an entire space, and it is clear that users prefer this experience. Alexa was also set up in such a way as to not make users feel less self-conscious about using it in the open. They are having a conversation with a device that responds aloud, so the experience is natural and more “human.”

Another strength of Amazon’s Alexa is the third party ecosystem that has sprung up around it. While I mentioned the limitations of Alexa Skills as being a drawback, the fact that they exist is still a big strength. HomeKit may have been there first, but people have embraced Alexa because there is convenience in being able to link devices that they want to use together without headaches and restrictions. While the defined commands required to use Alexa Skills may cause some frustration, the amount of third party integrations available is still a strength that Amazon has over both Google and Apple.

Getting a pass

The bottom line is, Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa do get a pass on their shortcomings, but they get it for legitimate reasons. People don’t get as irritated over them because both of these assistants have aspects that are truly great. On the flip-side, Apple doesn’t get a pass for Siri’s shortcomings because there isn’t a similar feature that it has or task it performs that is similarly great. There is no positive bubble or reality distortion field here. Without that, people will pile on the negative aspects and won’t give much credit for the things that are good.

Every time I hear Siri discussed on a tech podcast, even an Apple-centric podcast, this is what it comes down to. There are complaints and the typical, “Siri sucks” comments. Then someone will usually mention a feature or two that is good and works well for them, and people will backpedal a bit and agree. Then there is usually a more reasonable discussion about all the things that don’t work as well. I hear the exact same in reverse with discussion on Assistant and Alexa, with the overall impression being positive. However, you will often hear the same backpedaling and admissions that certain features of those assistants don’t work so well. These overall positive and negative impressions come down to doing a few things very well, and the reactions around the three assistants are remarkably consistent across the tech world because of this.

We just heard a rumor this week that Apple is scaling back the planned features in iOS 12 to focus on software stability. I can only hope that Siri will be one of the items that will be focused on over the course of this year as part of this. The fact that Craig Federighi was supposedly behind this move and that Siri is now under his jurisdiction is cause for some optimism that improvements will be made going forward into 2018. Even if Apple won’t say it, the moves they have made to bolster their AI and machine learning efforts over the last two years, as well their downplaying of Siri as an intelligent assistant in the first HomePod, show me that they see the problems. However, the question remains- do they have the right answers to fix them?

If Apple can create a more consistent user experience for Siri across all of its platforms, it will help cut down on frustration and might actually encourage more Apple device owners to use it. However, to turn around the service’s tarnished reputation and get it seen in a favorable light, Apple needs to double down on one or two core features that they know users want to be improved. They need to taken them, hammer everything out and make them great, whatever that takes.

I’m talking bulletproof. Rock solid. The kind of great that no reviewer can deny. That is what it will take to turn heads at this point, so that’s what they have to do.

The current path of incremental upgrades and new feature additions isn’t improving the situation or user’s impressions of Siri. Apple needs something that its competitors already have. They need something great to hang Siri’s hat on going forward. Without this, the negative perception won’t change, even if Siri does improve incrementally over time.

What would you add to Siri’s feature list? Sound off in the comments below!

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