This week's sponsor

Igloo an Intranet you'll actually like.



Apple, Siri, and VocalIQ

Brian Roemmele makes some interesting points on VocalIQ, a speech/deep learning startup that Apple acquired last year (via Nick Heer):

It is not a secret that Siri has not kept up the pace that just about all of us expected, including some of the Siri team. The passion that Steve had seemed to have been waning deep inside of Apple and the results were Dag and Adam Cheyer moved on and formed Five Six Labs ( A play on V IV in Roman numerals) and Viv.

Tom Gruber, one of the original team members and the chief scientist that created Siri technology, stayed on and continued his work. During most of 2016 and 2017 we will begin to see the results of this work. I call it Siri2 and am very certain Apple will call it something else.

Roemmele has been following all this for a long time, and he adds:

If Apple utilizes just a small subset of the technology developed by VocalIQ, we will see a far more advanced Siri. However I am quite certain the amazing work of Tom Gruber will also be utilized. Additionally the amazing technology from Emollient, Perception and a number of unannounced and future Apple acquistions will also become a big part of Apple’s AI future.

Between these acquisitions and reports that Apple is indeed preparing a Siri API for developers, it sounds like we should expect some notable announcements at WWDC.

See also: this fascinating talk by VocalIQ CEO and founder Blaise Thomson from last June on machine learning applied to voice interactions.

Permalink

Apple Denied Key Exemption for Retail Stores in India

Bloomberg reports that Apple has been denied a key exemption that will likely scuttle Apple's plans in the short term to open official Apple Retail Stores in India:

India’s finance minister has ratified a decision that Apple Inc. must meet local sourcing rules to open its own stores, according to people familiar with the matter, dealing what may be a fatal blow to the iPhone maker’s effort to open retail outlets in the country.

Minister Arun Jaitley decided to support the decision by India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board that Apple will have to procure 30 percent of components locally if it wants to sell through its own retail stores, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. The company makes most of its products in China and doesn’t currently meet that criteria.

It comes after another government panel had recommended, in late April, that Apple be granted the exemption. But more significantly, today's move comes after Tim Cook visited India in his first official trip to the country as CEO of Apple.

The decision by India's finance minister may not be the last word, as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could theoretically intervene. During Cook's trip to India he met with Prime Minister Modi and Apple's retail plans were reportedly discussed, as was Modi's "Made in India" program which encourages foreign companies to manufacture in India. In public comments during the week Cook suggested that Apple was looking to establish a facility in India that would refurbish old iPhones for resale in India, but had no plans for other manufacturing at this stage.

If you're interested in reading more about Cook's week-long tour of India and China (which occurred last week), I wrote about the context of the trip as well as providing a timeline of what actually happened.

Permalink

Creating Robots on an iPad

Great story by Christina Warren at Mashable on how the iPad is being used to teach interactive problem solving in a fun, new way:

I’m sitting on the floor at The Academy of Talented Scholars (PS 682) in Bensonhurst, watching kindergarteners create robots on an iPad.

It’s one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, and I don’t even like children.

The exercise is part of the curriculum led by co-teachers Stacy Butsikares and Allison Bookbinder, focused on helping the 5- and 6-year-old students come up with ways to solve problems.

I often wish I had an iPad when I was in elementary school 20 years ago.

In the same story, Christina focuses on the Hopscotch programming app and kids who grow up using it:

So what happens after kids master Hopscotch? Do they continue coding? Conrad says that the team receives fan mail all the time (something she calls “really gratifying”) from kids who have parlayed their experience with Hopscotch into learning other languages too.

I wonder what Apple thinks of teaching Swift to a new generation of programmers on an iPad.

Permalink

Connected, Episode 92: My Relationship with the Status Bar

This week Federico takes Myke on a tour of his experience with Android.

After ending last week's episode of Connected on a cliffhanger, I took some time this week to share my first impressions of Android and some thoughts on trying different things and challenging my preconceptions more often. I think it's a good one. You can listen here.

Sponsored by:

  • Casper: Because everyone deserves a great night sleep. Get $50 off with the code ‘CONNECTED’
Permalink

Canvas, Episode 10: Third-Party Email Clients

Fraser and Federico (particularly Federico) drop serious knowledge on 3rd party iOS mail clients.

I forgot to link Canvas' episode 10 on this website last week, but it's a great one: we went deep on third-party email clients for iOS, why you should use them, and what categories of clients are out there today. You can listen here.

Sponsored by:

  • Airtable: Organise anything you can imagine.

What are they good for? Where do they have hard limitations? Which ones are the best? Federico makes his picks and explains how these clients can hook into other parts of your workflow to really enhance your mail processing on iOS.

Permalink

Igloo: An Intranet You’ll Actually Like [Sponsor]

In this day and age, there’s no shortage of ways to collaborate. You can use shared FTP drives, company-wide chat apps, or maybe you can use the one that thing that’s been neglected for a while: your corporate communications portal. While each app might serve a purpose, the sheer volume (and fragmentation) can be overwhelming for people at work these days.

That's why you should try Igloo. It combines department spaces, team calendars, corporate file sharing, internal communications capabilities, social features, and plenty more—easily.

At Igloo, they think your way is the best way, they just want to support you, and make your way better.

Work has evolved and your tools should too. Never email yourself a file again. Bring your company into the 21st century - send your IT guy to try Igloo Software for free.

Igloo is an intranet you’ll actually like.

Our thanks to Igloo for sponsoring MacStories this week.


Twitter Gives Tweets More Room to Breathe

Twitter announced some big changes today that are designed to encourage conversations and media sharing. The 140 character limit of a tweet becomes a more significant constraint as you add more ‘@names’ to a conversation or attach media to a tweet. The changes announced by Twitter, which go a long way toward addressing those constraints, will be rolled out over the coming months in Twitter’s own app and will be available to third-party Twitter clients.

Replies

Large group conversations on Twitter are hard. The more people you add to a thread, the fewer characters you have left to communicate with the group. With the upcoming change to replies, ’@names’ of up to 50 people will no longer count toward the 140-character limit of a tweet. The tweet will still be seen only in the timelines of the people @replied, but eliminating ‘@names’ from the character count should facilitate conversations among more people. I am happy to see this change overall, but I wonder whether Twitter has gone too far by allowing up to 50 ‘@names’ in a single tweet.

The change to ‘@names’ will also eliminate the quandary about what to do when you want to start a tweet with someone’s ‘@name’ that is not a reply. With the changes announced, these tweets will be treated like any other tweet and be visible to all of your followers, eliminating the need to use the convention of a period before an ‘@name’ to ensure that everyone who follows you sees the tweet.

Media

When Twitter rolls out the changes announced, photos, videos, and GIFs will not count against the 140 character limit of a tweet, which should encourage the use of more media in tweets. The existing limits of four photos, or one video or GIF per tweet still apply. Links that are pasted into a tweet and not generated by attaching media will also still count against the 140-character limit.

Retweets

Finally, Twitter announced that you will be able to retweet your own tweets. Though this struck me as strange at first, it eliminates the need for things like the ubiquitous ‘ICYM’ tweets and will allow you to share an @reply, which would normally only be visible to its recipients, with all your followers.


Archiving a Website for Ten Thousand Years

Glenn Fleishman, writing for The Atlantic:

Hi.co, a website that allows its users to post “moments” with a photo and annotation, plans a similar trip to the distant future. The operators, Craig Mod (who has also previously written for _The Atlantic) _and Chris Palmieri, announced today that the site will freeze service in September 2016. However, all posts present in the site’s database at that time will be microprinted onto a two-by-two-inch nickel plate. The entire site—2,000,000 words and 14,000 photos—should fit on a single disk. Several copies will be made and distributed across the globe; the Library of Congress has already been secured as a repository. The plates have a lifespan as long as 10,000 years, and they may be viewed with a 1,000-power optical microscope.

That's certainly one way to go about digital preservation. This was a truly entertaining read – make sure to check out the links about time capsules and the Rosetta Disk.

Permalink