Tag Archives: Siri

Tuesday Talk ~ What is Apple up to? A lot!


(Speculative image from TechFrag)

Apple sure has been busy lately! While everyone knew (and hoped) Apple was up to things, the gap between the 2016 and the 2017 WWDC seemed to yawn cavernously on, with any glimmers of hope generated by eager commentators and aficionados while Apple remained monolithically silent. We all hoped Apple was crazy-busy behind the scenes, but there was little evidence to support that, thanks to the usual layers of secrecy, until the very welcome blockbuster announcements.
The hardware announcements appealed to almost everybody, but of course, WWDC is a developer conference. For the San José hordes to leave smiling, they needed more than a raft of new hardware to aspire to.
But Apple’s messages have been mixed. On the one hand, Apple more than halved affiliate fees people can earn by directing their readers to Apple services, which just seems rude and uncaring considering how stinkingly-wealthy Apple is, while on the other there have been moves to both broaden and tighten the so-called ‘Apple ecosystem’. In this model, every device you have is by Apple, and Apple tech and services connects them all up. Coders code  on Apple devices and in Apple environments, and users can’t really get into the hardware and software of those devices, unlike the more accessible Microsoft and Android platforms.

Some of these moves are very welcome. For example, Apple will soon let the people who make podcasts learn what podcast listeners actually like – and what they ignore. A coming version of Apple’s Podcasts, which is by far the most popular podcast app, will provide basic analytics to podcast creators, giving them the ability to see when podcast listeners play individual episodes, and more importantly what part of individual episodes they listen to, which parts they skip over, and when they bail out of an episode.
This has been an annoyingly opaque world for far too long: launch your podcast into the ether and your only real feedback is how many people downloaded it, and the minimal user-feedback on iTunes.
iBooks is even worse – the authoring app dates back to 2012 and the awful truth only really dawns on you when you publish a book: sales are tiny because nobody really uses the iBooks platform (which is flat-out marvellous) and Apple seemingly cannot be bothered to put any effort into it or to properly promote it.
But the podcasts initiative is a sign of hope.

However, Apple is now clearly busy on several fronts. Self-driving machine learning is at the core of Apple’s car ambitions. We know this because Tim Cook said so. You know, in public. Business Chat will appear in iOS 11, which will work across Apple’ iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, but not the Mac (at first, anyway). Apple customers will be able to start a conversation with a business from Safari, Maps, Spotlight, and Siri. Once again, inside that Apple ecosystem, all will be sweet – it’s just that some find this a constriction whereas most users find it a pure boon.
Tim Cook has also announced a wide range of software and hardware changes that will finally bring VR to macOS, and that’s pretty surprising because Tim Cook himself had been on record as giving “exactly zero damns about VR“. Which I think is a good thing because it shows he’s flexible to new realities, right?

For some, of course, it has all been too much, even from the 2016 announcements. Because when you think about it, a lot of the top announcements at the last WWDC hardly went anywhere. How many people with 3D Touch-capable devices actually use it? Not many, in my experience, which is a shame as it’s remarkably useful. The same can’t be said for Stickers in Messages. I had a look once, and can’t be bothered with it. Like most people. This was froth, unlike most of the core tech and fundamentals of this year’s initiatives. It’s hard to use, and worse, virtually pointless.
Even Siri was practically useless to me until I discovered it’s superb function as a maths problem solver. I’m so bad at maths it takes me ages even to frame the question properly in a calculator or spreadsheet. Then if I’m lucky I might get close to the answer. Being able to just ask Siri a maths problem framed as a normal question is unbelievably satisfying and efficient.

All round, I think this year’s WWDC showed a much greater commitment to the core of what makes people Apple fans. And I’m really happy about that. 

Five Tip Friday ~ Siri’s Batman Easter Egg, AirPods volume control, save emails into PDFs


batman

1/ Siri has a LEGO Batman Easter Egg — Once these hidden little gems proliferated through Apple stuff but steve Jobs banned them. But sometimes you find them, and they’re even more precious now that they’re so rare. Press-and-hold your iPhone’s Home button to activate Siri, and get your Batman on by saying ‘Hey, computer’  and Siri respond with bat-appropriate comments. Cool huh? (This also works on Siri for Mac.)

2/ AirPods volume control is via Siri — Telling Siri to “increase/decrease volume” will land users at the nearest default level —0, 13, 25, 38, 50, 63, 75, 88 and 100 percent.

3/ Add percentages — You can add percentages from 0 to 100 percent onto the back of volume control commands. Granular changes within two percentage points are hardly noticeable, but tweaks above three points are surprisingly distinct.
For those who want greater control, Siri lets users set audio output volumes by percentage.
First, invoke Siri with a double tap on an AirPod, or say Hey Siri or long-press your iPhone/iPad Home button. Now say, “Set volume at 53 percent” or “lower volume to 23 percent.” Apple’s virtual assistant is capable of understanding a number of command variations including “raise/lower volume,” “turn sound up/down,” and “increase/decrease volume,” among others.

4/ What percentage are you at? To discover current listening levels, users can ask Siri, “What percent is the volume?” or “what is the volume?”

5/ Print PDFs from emails — There is another hidden feature in iOS – this one lets you print-to-PDF with any email. This doesn’t require a third-party app or another email client: you can do it inside Apple Mail with 3D Touch. Open Apple Mail on your iDevice (iPhone and iPad). Open the email you want to save. Tap the Reply button and a menu pops up with three options: Reply, Forward – and Print. Tap Print.
You’ll now see a screen where you can select a physical printer over Wi-Fi. But if you 3D Touch the email (press harder on the screen, a feature added from iPhone 6s), this message it will ‘pop’ and add a Share button at bottom right which lets you Share the email to PDF. This works for single page emails and emails with multiple pages. It’s a great way to save email receipts or important emails from VIPs.

iPad Air 2, must-know AirPod commands, Apple Watch apps


The world of Apple Watch Apps is blossoming
The world of Apple Watch Apps is blossoming

Stock-outs could signal the death of Apple’s iPad Air 2 ahead of expected lineup refresh — Inventory of Apple’s entry-level 9.7-inch iPad continues to dry up with a trio of new models rumoured to soon launch, potentially suggesting the popular iPad Air 2 will be axed for a new model with faster processor.

Must-know Siri commands for Apple’s wireless AirPods — To keep AirPods as hassle-free – and aesthetically pleasing – as possible, Apple opted to completely replace physical controls with Siri voice commands, a first for the company. AppleInsider compiled a few key phrases new AirPods owners should know in order to get the most out of their purchase.

Blossoming world of Apple Watch Apps — A key feature to the Apple Watch’s much-improved app experience is the App Dock, new in watchOS 3. It brings significant changes to app performance and your ability to quickly open your most important apps, do your thing, and get on with your day: one of the Watch’s core purposes for existing. If you aren’t familiar, check out The Mac Observer’s quick tip on the App Dock, then come back here to find some great apps with which to fill it.
And here’s how to find, install and remove said Apps, and how to force close Apple Watch apps in watchOS 3.

Great Macs, Cook Trump, Raspberry PI, Dongle discounts, Siri, AirPort firmware


usb-cdongles

Tim Cook says ‘Great Desktops’ are coming — The iMac hasn’t been updated in over a year and the Mac Pro is more than three years old without any changes, leaving many wondering if Apple is stepping back from the desktop computer market. Apple CEO Tim Cook says that’s not so, and that there are “great desktops in our roadmap.” [Some people still think Santa is coming.]

Tim Cook explains why Apple was present at Trump tech summit — In a response to employee questions posted to Apple’s internal message board, Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday explained why he felt it necessary to attend President-elect Donald Trump’s tech summit earlier this month. [Because it doesn’t pay to snub powerful megalomaniacs.]

Raspberry Pi Brings PIXEL desktop environment to the Ma — The team behind the super affordable Raspberry Pi computer platform has been working on their own desktop environment called PIXEL, and now it’s available for Mac. PIXEL is built on Debian, so it’s a fully bootable system, and includes everything you need to be productive, the Chromium web browser, and more. They designed it so you can pop it on a USB flash drive or DVD and run it from there. PIXEL is still in an experimental stage, so don’t rely on it as your primary OS. It’s a free download at the Raspberry Pi website.

Apple Extends USB-C dongle discounts to March 31 2017 — Apple’s discount on USB-C adapters was set to end on December 31st, but the company extended that out to March 31st, 2017. The extension means new MacBook Pro owners have more time to but the dongles they need at a substantially lower price.

Sierra ‘best listener yet’ — Try asking Sierra questions like …

Apple Updates AirPort Firmware to Fix Disappearing Base Station Issue — AirPort Extreme base stationApple released AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.7.8 on Tuesday. The update fixes an issue that caused some AirPort Base Stations to disappear from AirPort Utility when Find My Mac is on. It’s specifically for AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule base stations with 802.11ac.

I’m back! Futurology on the weekend, Apple news as usual, a MagBytes holiday edition next week.

Five Tip Friday ~ Are you using Siri on Mac? More good reasons to try


Siri offers a quick way to get your system specs
Siri offers a quick way to get your system specs – clicking the More Details bar launches the usual About This Mac dialogue.

1/ Siri by default — If you keep forgetting that Siri is now in your Mac, to encourage yourself to use Siri consider changing the keyboard shortcut that launches it to Command + Space. This is usually the keyboard shortcut for Spotlight – then you can change Spotlight’s keyboard shortcut to Option-Space, or something.
Why? Whenever muscle memory presses the shortcut that used to summon Spotlight, Siri appears instead and forces you to find the file, open the application, perform the Web search, or whatever using your voice instead of the keyboard.
You can change Siri’s shortcut in System Preferences>Siri, and the one for Spotlight in System Preferences>Spotlight.

2/ Need some more reasons to give Siri a go? Siri is brilliant at maths: complex equations, Pi, conversions of anything to anything, percentages … it’s so much easier than launching apps and tapping keys and all that palaver.

3/ Get your system specs — The information available under Apple Menu>About This Mac has been vastly improved, but now we have another way to figure out machine specs in macOS Sierra: Siri. Apple’s voice assistant can answer all sorts of questions for you or for anyone you’re trying to help, like ‘How much memory is on my Mac?’ ‘How much free storage do I have on my Mac?’ and ‘How fast is my Mac?’
Click on the Siri icon in the upper-right corner of your screen or hold down the key-combo, and start talking.

4/ What’s the weather like? Siri will respond to a variety of weather-related queries, from the standard “What’s the weather forecast for today?” to more conversational requests, such as “Will it rain today?” Yussss!

5/ Your system can recommend how to save storage space — If you’re running out of space on your Mac, Sierra’s has suggestions for you. The latest version of macOS makes recommendations based on your current usage of your drive.
Click on the Apple Menu at the upper-left corner of your screen and choose About This Mac. Now click the Storage tab, and from there, pick Manage. When the next window pops up, select Recommendations in the sidebar, and you’ll see what your Mac thinks you need to do. This might suggest setting the trash to empty every 30 days, automatically removing iTunes media after you’ve watched it etc. When you click on the button next to one of the recommendations, your Mac will walk you through turning it on and will mention any caveats.
Be sure your machine has a backup before you make any big changes like these, especially if you’re going to turn on iCloud Photo Library and sync your images with your other Apple devices.
If the Recommendations feature is asking you to do something you don’t understand (especially if you’re using the Reduce Clutter option to review your files), then consider putting the brakes on. Better to keep extra files on your Mac than to remove something you need(although, of course, you really should have a backup).

Want more? Check out this list at TekReview.

Five Tip Friday ~ macOS Sierra Picture in Picture, Siri searches and Photo Memories


screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-7-54-44-am

1/ Picture-I-Picture in macOS Sierra supports picture-in-picture — You don’t need Method 2 if you have the on-screen controls (a little button at lower left on your video player) but if that doesn’t appear (I hardly ever see them), there’s another way to enable PiP mode. On, say YouTube, right-click in the middle of the movie to bring up a set of YouTube-supplied HTML 5-based controls. This takes doing it to get it, but once that pop-up menu is on-screen, right-click away from it (right of t, or left, or above or below) and another pop-out menu appears, as above.  Choose that, and the movie will unfold and snap to the nearest corner of your Mac desktop. You can only access this particular Sierra contextual menu if the HTML 5-supplied pop-up menu is on screen first.

2/ Use Command-drag to position Picture-in-Picture videos — If you’re watching a video in picture-in-picture mode in macOS Sierra, it snaps to the nearest corner. Even when you drag it out of that corner, it will again snap to the corner nearest to where you let it go.But hold down the Command key while you drag to put the video where you want it. Iif you Command-Drag the video, it stays where you leave it. If you don’t, it will snap to the nearest corner.

3/  Siri to search for images on the internet — macOS Sierra’s voice assistant can search the web for pictures. Click on Siri’s colourful Dock or menu bar icon, and say something like ‘Do a Web search for images of [whatever]’. The list of results that appears is interactive. For example, you can drag and drop one of those thumbnails out to your desktop to save it there, onto Mail’s icon in the Dock to attach it to an email, or into a Pages or Word document to insert it. You can also right- or Control-click a thumbnail to get a few other options, including the ability to copy the image.

4/ Using Photos Memories — The new Memories feature within Sierra’s version of Photos is a pretty cool way to look back on the pictures you’ve taken. Depending on how big your Photos library is, the program will generate up to three new Memories per day to remind you of events or places in your life. You can look at these Memories by choosing that option either under the big buttons near the top of Photos’ window…
Selecting Memories in either place will show you both the automatically-created ones and ones you’ve made.

5/ Make a Memory — This is easy, if not very obvious: click on the header for any moment, collection, or year within the main Photos view, and you’ll see an Add to Memories option at the bottom of the following screen.
favorite-memoriesOnce you’re looking at all of your Memories, then, you can double-click one to check out the images within it or use the Play button to view it as a slideshow. If you see a Memory you really like and would like to keep, you can ‘favorite’ it. Choose Image>Add to Favorite Memories… or right-click on the Memory and select that same option.
To remove a favorited Memory, select it and choose the Remove from Favorite Memories option from the Image menu, or right-click on it again and pick that from the contextual menu.

Five Tip Friday ~ iOS 9 and Siri gives you no-typing abilities


iOS 10 will arrive shortly, but these tips will work for that too.

direct

1/ Teach Maps and Siri where your house is — Teach Maps on iOS and Mac OS X – and Siri on iOS – to recognise your home address. Open Maps when you are at home, and tap the arrow icon in the lower left side of the screen (in iOS 10 it’s at top right, on Mac it’s at top left by the top central type-in field).
When your current location is show, tap on the arrow to the right.
On the info page in the lower left, tap Add to Contacts.
Choose Existing Contact.
Pick your iCloud Contact card.
Assign a location tag — for example, ‘Home’.
Now you can issue Siri commands involving Home andSiri will know the location you mean. You can do the same with your work address and other locations.

2/ Use Siri to get directions —Hold down the Home button to activate Siri (or say ‘Hey, Siri’ if your iOS device supports this feature and you have turned it on in Settings>Siri). Tell Siri the place you want directions to. For example ‘Where is Hell Pizza?’ (The resulting screens will even tell you whether a place is closed! Main picture, above.)
Siri will show you the location on a map. If there are multiple locations shown, tap the one you want.
Siri will then present you with directions from your current location to your destination.
Tap Start and follow the directions.

3/ Use Siri to send text messages — You don’t have to use the virtual keypad on your iPhone or iPad to send text messages because Siri can do it for you. Decide what message you wish to send. Say something like ‘Send Hone a text’ or ‘Text my sister.’ Siri will create a new message and ask you what you want the message to say.
Dictate your message.
To make sure it’s the proper message, tell Siri to ‘Read my message,’ and it will be read back to you.
You’re then asked if you wish to send the message. Say, ‘Send’ … whoosh.

4/ Use Siri to send emails — Press and hold the Home button to activate Siri (or say ‘Hey, Siri’ if you iPhone supports this feature and you have turned in on in Settings).
Say something like ‘Email Andrew’ or ‘Send an email to Andrew’, or you can send an email to multiple recipients with a phrase like ‘Send an email to Andrew and Jacinda.’
Siri opens your Contacts app and grabs the email address of the person or persons you’re emailing. If the contact has more than one email address, you’ll be asked to choose the address you wish to use.
Tell Siri the subject of the email, for example ‘Soccer practice Thursday night.’
Dictate to Siri the contents of the email.
Wait for Siri to confirm the content of your text.
Tap Send, or say ‘Yes’ to send your email.

5/ On iPhone 6s/6s Plus, go to important settings immediately — Press on the Settings app with  little force and, under iOS 9, you’ll see three options: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Battery. So you could use this to hop in and join a network, say, or turn on Low Power Mode. Under the latest release of iOS 10, there’s an additional choice, too – Cellular Data.
(This should also work on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.)

iOS 10, Siri, coding to iPad, Maps and Music, watchOS 3 speeds up, HomeKit device control


Image from Gizmodo's 'all you need to know about iOS 10 page.
Image from Gizmodo’s ‘all you need to know about iOS 10′ page.

Apple Previews iOS 10, the ‘biggest iOS release ever’ — Apple has just previewed iOS 10, the biggest release ever of the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, featuring a huge update to Messages that delivers more expressive and animated ways to message friends and family, like stickers and full-screen effects. iOS 10 introduces the ability for Siri to do more by working with apps, beautifully redesigned Maps, Photos, Apple Music® and News apps, and the Home app, delivering a simple and secure way to manage home automation products in one place. iOS 10 opens up incredible opportunities to developers with Siri, Maps, Phone and Messages. Here is Apple’s full iOS 10 press release. The new version opens Siri to developers, adds more device categories to HomeKit, and more.
Messages gains rich links, 3X bigger emojis, bubble effects & third-party app integration. Plus powerful new Siri capabilities and Single Sign-On are coming to Apple TV.

Apple brings coding to the iPad with Swift Playground — Introduced as a new way for children to learn how to code, Apple will bring its Swift programming language to iPad with Swift Playground, a touch-friendly way for beginners to grasp the basics.

Apple Music gets redesign in iOS 10 and Maps open to developers — Apple’s Maps and Music services will gain new functionality and and new looks with the upcoming launch of iOS 10, the company announced at WWDC on Monday. In particular, Maps will gain in-app functionality with third-party extensions, while Music has a cleaner design that simplifies playback and discovery.

watchOS 3 will be the solution to most of our Apple Watch problems  The Apple Watch’s biggest problems are its apps, namely the time it takes for them to load, and the limited features developers are allowed to bake in. Apple is fixing these issues with a major overhaul to watchOS, coming this fall as a free upgrade for all Apple Watch owners. Here’s the full Apple press release.

Apple debuts ‘Home’ app for HomeKit device control — At its Worldwide Developers Conference today, Apple introduced a dedicated “Home” iOS app for manual control over HomeKit accessories from iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

No new hardware. At all. 

Siri, Viv, Microsoft OneDrive, free Opera VPN, 8 ways to improve iPad Pro


NPHar

Neil Patrick Harris shows off ‘Hey Siri’ in Apple’s latest iPhone 6s ad — Actor Neil Patrick Harris has once again joined Apple to promote the iPhone 6s, this time in a new TV ad where the Oscar and Tony host dictates notes to his iPhone using its “Hey Siri” handsfree capabilities. In the new 30-second ad, Harris prompts his phone to read a saved memo from the Notes app using only his voice. Siri responds accordingly, allowing Harris to freshen up his tuxedo and practice the speech without touching the iPhone 6s.

Meet Viv, the new voice assistant from the creators of Siri — Siri made the iPhone more responsive with artificial intelligence, but now its founders want to put AI in every device you own. Dag Kittlaus, who cofounded Siri, left Apple five years ago, but now he’s back with a new voice assistant named Viv that he predicts will change the way we interact with not just our phones, but our home appliances, cars, and more. Viv has gotten a lot of hype for a product that hasn’t shipped yet, but Kittlaus demoed Viv publicly for the first time at TechCrunch Disrupt on Monday.

Microsoft embraces Apple’s 3D Touch in OneDrive update — Users of Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service will now be able to browse more easily through their files — as long as they have an iPhone 6s — as the Redmond giant has added Apple’s 3D Touch.

Opera has launched an iOS app to expand its free, unlimited, ad-blocking VPN — Opera Software is taking its VPN campaign to iOS with a free, unlimited virtual private network app. Launched Monday, the new app follows Opera’s debut in late April of a free, built-in virtual private network in the beta version of its PC and Mac browsers. Opera’s VPN services are offered by SurfEasy, a Canadian VPN provider that Opera acquired in early 2015. [Free and easy to use …]

Eight changes that could make the iPad Pro even better — Jason Cipriano loves his Pro but reckons these changes would improve it.

XcodeGhost, 9.0.1, Siri, iPad Pro and Office, Pixelmator for 9, Pope effects 6s deliveries


Siri got a new brain in iOS 9 (image from Apple Insider)
Siri got a new brain in iOS 9 (image from Apple Insider)

Thousands of iOS apps infected by XcodeGhost — The impact of iOS app developers unknowingly using a rogue version of the Xcode development tool is turning out to be greater than initially thought: early reports listed just 39 apps that had been trojanized with the tool, but security researchers have since identified thousands more. Apple will host Xcode, the free Apple developer software, on Chinese servers as a response. (Slowness in Chinese developers being able to download the official version led to doctored versions becoming available on Chinese servers, which is what led to the malware outbreak.)

Apple releases iOS 9.0.1 update — A week ago, Apple released iOS 9 to the general public. On Wednesday, the company released the first update to the operating system, iOS 9.0.1. According to the release notes, the update contains bug fixes. The note specifically calls out the following.

Inside iOS 9: Siri brings new smarts to sports, weather, photos, and more in iOS 9 — With Siri replacing Spotlight in iOS 9, Apple’s personal digital assistant has received a new brain that lets her retrieve information sports and weather, find photos, look inside apps, and more.

iPad Pro users will need 365 subscriptions to use Microsoft Office — As it turns out, iPad Pro users will have to pay for an Office 365 subscription if they want to edit documents on Apple’s new tablet. That’s a big difference than the current state of affairs on iOS. Right now, all the devices running Apple’s mobile operating system that are currently available can be used to view and edit documents for free through Microsoft’s productivity software. [Or just stick with free Apple Pages, Numbers etc as I do, since they read and write Microsoft docs anyway.]

Pixelmator releases iOS 9 update with multitasking and 8K image support — Pixelmator is one of the best image editing apps for both Mac and iOS. Today, the company released an update to Pixelmator for iOS (version 2.1, NZ$6.49) that provides support for many of the features built into iOS 9.

Pope visit might delay iPhone 6s preorder deliveries in NYC, Apple says — Apple has sent out emails to an unknown number of customers living in New York City, warning them that their iPhone 6s preorders might not arrive on time due to “traffic restrictions” thought to be associated with the Pope’s visit to the city this Friday.