Apple is set to unveil the new Apple Watch Series 6 this week. He is also rumored to be creating a new, low-cost version of the Apple Watch instead of lowering the price on an older model. The new Series 6 is said to add other health features such as blood oxygen monitoring, while watchOS 7 will bring sleep monitoring and even more fitness options.
The Apple Watch is, without a doubt, first and foremost a health device. I’m curious to see how Apple navigates by announcing a feature like blood oxygen monitoring, something that was on everyone’s mind during the pandemic.
Either way, I’m glad the Apple Watch has finally found its place. For the first two years there, it wasn’t entirely clear what it was for and it was even less clear that Apple had a good answer. Instead, he had several answers. And as this year’s Apple Watch update approached, I thought about one of the answers that didn’t come true: ambient computing.
The last column of my friend Walt Mossberg for The Verge it was called “The Disappearing Computer” and it was about that idea, ambient computing. We didn’t have a clear definition of it in 2017 (and honestly, it’s hard to pinpoint one now), but Walt had a good working model for some of the signals that came along:
Technology, the computer inside all of these things, will fade into the background. In some cases, it can disappear altogether, waiting to be activated by a voice command, a person entering the room, a change in blood chemistry, a shift in temperature, a movement. Maybe even just a thought.
For now we will leave the mind reading to Elon Musk. Otherwise, it’s not that far from what the Apple Watch can do today. The Apple Watch is explicitly a computer designed to always be on your body, to blend in with the background and become invisible, and to receive your voice commands.
The Apple Watch, not the HomePod, should be Apple’s primary device for ambient computing. It is better suited to this task than the devices any other company sells right now. Smart speakers from Amazon and Google are in your home, but they haven’t found a foothold for ambient computing outside your home. Sure, you might have the Google Assistant on your phone or in your headphones, but it’s still too phone-focused.
By now you have already guessed the flight in this ointment: Siri. Apple’s digital assistant simply may not be the platform needed to unlock ambient computing. Alexa and the Google Assistant aren’t ready yet, to be honest, but they’re both way ahead on that path than Siri.
The person allegedly tasked with bridging this gap is John Giannandrea, who led Google’s search and AI until Apple caught him in 2018. Giannandrea recently spoke with Ars Technica and revealed that they created the team that applied machine learning to the iPad’s Apple Pencil recognition algorithms so that it could have lower latency and better recognize handwriting – something Google was already doing with Chrome OS and Samsung has just started dealing with the Galaxy Note.
On the iPad it works – both latency and handwriting recognition are much better than I’ve seen before. The “scribble mode” in iPadOS 14 isn’t up to the task of completely replacing a keyboard, but it’s great for short snippets of text.
I raise this not to draw a line between this application of ML and generalized environmental computation, but to emphasize that there is a lot that can be done with ML and AI tools already in everyone’s technological workbench. They just need to be applied in new and clever ways. Using ML to improve handwriting and latency on the iPad isn’t a sea change, but is instead a step in the right direction.
Taking a step in the right direction is what Siri needs right now. Even in the new watchOS 7 beta, I still can’t ask Siri to do something as simple as set multiple timers. It is actually ridiculous! If you set a second timer, the first is canceled invisibly with no indication that it is gone. It’s the thing that keeps the Echo point in my kitchen.
Arpming on multiple timers in Siri – and insisting on Siri in general – can be seen as making too many small complaints. But on the flip side, Apple is well aware of this complaint and it has been for some time, but it has not resolved it.
This is worrying, frankly. Apple could – and does – regularly add great new features to Siri. But no one will ever discover these capabilities if Siri smooths out the basics equally regularly. And it still does.
The first Apple Watch was like the first Siri beta: a mess. The Apple Watch has never had a moment of being “fixed”, but instead has been slowly fixed over time through relentless iterations and improvements. In theory, the same should apply to Siri, but it didn’t happen at the same pace.
While Siri isn’t where it should be, the Apple Watch is still the best smartwatch on the market by a large margin. But if Siri could do more, the Apple Watch could be something more. The era of ambient computing is still coming. Will Siri be ready?
Towards the end of his interview with Ars, Giannandrea talked about hiring new talent for his team. “I guess the biggest problem I have is that a lot of our most ambitious products are the ones we can’t talk about and so it’s a bit of a sales challenge to say to someone,” Come and work on the most ambitious thing ever, but I can’t tell you what it is. ‘”
It sounds great, but my advice is to start talking as soon as possible. And the “talk” I’d like to see is actually action: new features for Siri that come via the same relentless improvement on the things people are trying to use Siri for today.. And hey, maybe it starts with timers.
A rare Monday newsletter today partly because I was thinking about the Apple Watch and partly because last night was a wild night of tech news! Nvidia has announced that it will buy Arm and Oracle will reportedly not buy TikTok but will become a “trusted technology partner”.
┏ What to expect from Apple’s “Time Flies” event: Apple Watch Series 6, a redesigned iPad Air and more. Jay Peters collects the most likely suspects. High probability: new Apple Watch and new iPad Air. Medium: Apple’s new service package. Low: everything else.
┏ Apple Music for Android Contains Mentions of Alleged “Apple One” Service Package.
┏ Apple’s New App Store Guidelines Spot Loopholes for xCloud, Stadia, and Other Apps Apple Blocked. These are not so much loopholes as they are narrow tunnels filled with poisonous spikes and tentacles. I see them more as clarifications about what Apple’s existing policy is than any significant change of position.
┏ Microsoft snubs Apple’s olive branch at cloud gaming: “a bad experience for customers”.
┏ Nvidia acquires Arm for $ 40 billion. Kim Lyons on a successful deal:
Arm will operate as a division of Nvidia and will remain headquartered in the UK, and “will continue to operate its open licensing model, while maintaining its global customer neutrality,” the company said. But the deal will still face intense regulatory scrutiny.
┏ Oracle Reportedly Wins TikTok US Operations Deal as “Trusted Technology Partner”. Hopefully by the time you read this we will have more details, but there was too much noise and fury leading up to this and it feels like a much smaller deal than everyone was expecting.
the company was instead selected as a “trusted technological partner”. This is different from an outright sale and seems to suggest Oracle will help run TikTok’s US operations with its own cloud technologies.
┏ Microsoft says it’s not acquiring TikTok after ByteDance turned down the offer. Microsoft’s statement here is very concise, to the point where it’s hard not to think that some sort of scam has happened.
┏ Samsung announces the event of September 23, probably for the “Fan Edition” of the Galaxy S20. Chris Welch:
Most recently, the unannounced phone was found on the Verizon website from Android Police. Leaks and rumors have suggested that it will retain some hardware specs of the standard S20 – such as a 120Hz display and Snapdragon 865 processor – but will downgrade elsewhere (such as 1080p resolution) to help drive the price down below. flagship. As for exactly what the price will be, we’re not sure yet.
┏ Facebook reinvents Facebook with the launch of Campus for college students. Ashley Carman:
Campus could be one way Facebook tries to keep students and young people on the original Facebook app and engaged longer. At the same time, it is building behavior that Facebook says it has already seen on the platform.
┏ Bose announces the $ 279 QuietComfort earphones and the $ 179 sports earphones. Here they are. Chris Welch has the details, the most interesting of which is that Bose is cramming 11 levels of noise cancellation into these tiny earbuds. I would have been happy to turn it on or off.
┏ Bose introduces three new pairs of sunglasses with audio Frames for $ 249. You know, I have to admit I’m surprised that Bose keeps making them – they have to sell pretty well!
┏ Sony announces the PS5 event for Wednesday 16th September. We should finally get a price.
┏ Your move, PS5. Sean Hollister:
But there’s no reason for Sony to hold back now that Microsoft has revealed its hand. The question is how low Sony should go, how low it can afford to go down, because as strong as the PS4 was and as weak as the Xbox once seemed, $ 299 is an incredible starting price that seems impossible to hit or beat.
┏ A closer look at Nvidia’s new RTX 3080.
┏ A first look at Microsoft’s new Xbox Series X console. Microsoft has sent Tom Warren a couple of dummy units of its upcoming Xbox consoles. Yes, it is quite large.
┏ Microsoft’s new Xbox Series S is surprisingly small in size and price. Of the two boxes, the S series is the most fascinating because it is really quite small. I expected it would be a no-brainer for me to get an X Series, but now I’m torn.
┏ Welcome to the next generation of games. Xbox and Playstation are exciting, but even if you don’t like PC games you should keep an eye out for upcoming reviews of Nvidia’s new high-powered graphics card. If it lives up to Nvidia’s claims, it could be the driver for a whole new generation of other PC components, starting with monitors.
┏ Microsoft Surface Duo review: double problems. My Surface Duo review, along with a video I’m really proud of. Microsoft didn’t have a great start here, I have to be honest. But even if it’s stumbled upon software bugs and camera issues, it works in the right direction.
┏ Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 Review: A gaming laptop that doesn’t need two screens. It turns out that making a dual-screen gaming PC is as difficult as making a dual-screen phone. Monica Chin reviews:
For example, if you run tomb Raider in full screen mode and try clicking on a Discord chat downstairs, it minimizes the game. You can fix this by using windowed mode, but tinkering with the ScreenPad still gets you out.
More from The Verge
┏ Subscribe to Antivirus: A weekly newsletter on COVID-19 research. This new newsletter from our scientific editor Mary Beth Griggs is a mandatory subscription:
This month we will officially launch a newsletter version of Antivirus, a column we are silently launching on the site every Saturday morning. It’s about the tireless efforts scientists are making to understand the coronavirus and figure out how to stop it.
┏ Why “Cancel Netflix” is trending. Julia Alexander with the ultimate story explaining what the heck is going on with this horrible mess of conspiracy theory and social media.