Apple Takes On Distracted Driving With New Feature

Todd Singleton
June 7, 2017

That could include a reminder to make a call or a flight reservation. These giants are battling over still-emerging fields that are expected to turn into technological gold mines, much the way personal computers and smartphones became moneymaking machines in previous decades. Google is next, with about 24 percent. They democratize and simplify smart-home control, so no one is asking permission to use someone else's phone, or fishing for one device in order to control another.

Unless you've been trapped in a VR cave, you've probably heard by now that Apple has a new version of iOS. No doubt Apple fans are delighted to have a home speaker like Echo and new WatchOS with AI capabilities, but Apple had nothing new to offer.

Siri can now speak 21 languages and is available in 36 countries, but the upgraded SiriKit in iOS 11 will not only give her a more natural sounding voice but also give developers the opportunity to access a male version. And as familiar as that sounds, voice control should enable classes of smart-home devices, and solutions that don't yet exist, whose complexity is tucked away behind an interface that couldn't be more intuitive. The HomePod itself is breaking news, despite the fact that it isn't creating a new category, or even offering true breakthrough features like those of Amazon and Google's smart speakers. AR adds a virtual layer of information and characters on the real world scenes that you can interact with. If you've got a "must-keep" idea that you need to note down in an instant, you can tap Apple Pencil on the iPad's lock screen to immediately open the Notes app to a blank page.

Amazon has the biggest array of hardware and the most aggressive pricing. Only the most recent messages will be kept on the device to save storage space. This also means that if you delete a conversation it is deleted across all devices. A side effect is that you have multi-stage interactions with Siri far more frequently.

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The screen itself is also pretty impressive, spanning 27 inches and 14.7 million pixels, with support for more than a billion colors. And while it didn't fare well against the Amazon Echo in our head-to-head battle, I like that Google Assistant is getting much smarter, and that you will soon be able to make hands-free calls.

Six microphones in the speaker's base - one less than the Echo but four more than the Home - let HomePod pick up your requests from across the room (even with loud music playing). The app will award users points for the amount of time they go without interacting with their phones while driving. With iOS 11, you can kick your Venmo habit and iMessage your friends money with Apple Pay, have Siri translate for you as you sightsee in Rome, and multitask so much on your iPad Pro that you'll never pick up your laptop again. It'll be available from any screen in a similar fashion to the way it works on macOS.

Apple announced more of the same for its own range of products and much the same as to what Google, Amazon and Microsoft are doing. Microsoft's one advantage is consumers' familiarity with Cortana, which is in every Windows 10 device.

The Essential Home hub is assistant-agnostic.

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