The Too-Unreliable Edition Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why Does Siri Seem So Dumb?, by Walt Mossberg, The Verge

Yes, Siri can usually place a call or send a text. It can tell you sports standings, Yelp restaurant reviews, and movie times — features Apple added years ago. And it must be said that all of its competitors have their own limitations and also make mistakes.

But, in its current incarnation, Siri is too limited and unreliable to be an effective weapon for Apple in the coming AI wars. It seems stagnant. Apple didn’t become great by just following the data on what customers are doing today. It became great by delighting customers with feats they didn’t expect. The AI revolution will demand even more of that.

Teaching Siri To Snark, by Brandon Ambrosino, Popular Mechanics

Yes, sometimes explaining a joke ruins the joke. But researchers who want to teach robots how to be sarcastic have to think hard about the basic mechanisms of how sarcasm works.

One key element of human sarcasm is the counterfactual, says Penny Pexman, professor of psychology at the University of Calgary. Quite simply, a person says one thing but means another. (Perhaps that's why some humans, with an ear tuned toward facts, have such a hard time interpreting sarcasm correctly.)

Control Life

Building A Smart Home With Apple’s HomeKit, by Jon Chase, The Wirecutter

Unlike most current smart-home platforms, HomeKit doesn’t require the use of a hub to control groups of devices, though an Apple TV (or an iOS device you leave at home) is required to act as a gateway when you’re away. But even without a hub, HomeKit devices can easily be configured to work together as part of a modest home automation setup, and in our testing they require less fuss and troubleshooting than most other smart-home platforms.

The Binge Breaker, by Bianca Bosker, The Atlantic

While some blame our collective tech addiction on personal failings, like weak willpower, Harris points a finger at the software itself. That itch to glance at our phone is a natural reaction to apps and websites engineered to get us scrolling as frequently as possible. The attention economy, which showers profits on companies that seize our focus, has kicked off what Harris calls a “race to the bottom of the brain stem.” “You could say that it’s my responsibility” to exert self-control when it comes to digital usage, he explains, “but that’s not acknowledging that there’s a thousand people on the other side of the screen whose job is to break down whatever responsibility I can maintain.” In short, we’ve lost control of our relationship with technology because technology has become better at controlling us.


Apple's New Ad Explores The Redesigned Apple Music, by Husain Sumra, MacRumors

Apple today debuted a new ad aimed at exploring some of the new features in the redesigned Apple Music. The full ad functions as a basic overview of the service, letting potential users know what they can expect from it.

iPad App Helps Astronauts Track Dietary Intake, by IANS

An iPad app, designed specifically for use in space, simplifies the way astronauts track their dietary intake and offers greater insight for physicians and researchers on the Earth looking to keep crews healthy and fit, NASA said.

The International Space Station Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT) iPad app, recently delivered to the space station, gives astronauts real-time feedback about their dietary habits.


Apple Says 'No Evidence' Of Photo Theft From Apple Store Customer Phones, by Daniel Van Boom, CNET

"We are investigating a violation of Apple's business conduct policy at our store in Carindale, where several employees have already been terminated as a result of our findings," Apple said in a statement.

Despite workers being fired, the company added that, based on its investigation, "we have seen no evidence that customer data or photos were inappropriately transferred or that anyone was photographed by these former employees."

Days Are Numbered On The iPhone's Physical Home Button, by Abdel Ibrahim, AppAdvice

These are the five major functions of the Home button. However, starting in 2015, Apple began to enable alternative ways to access some of these functions.

Bottom of the Page

I live in Singapore. I am seldom alone. I don't drive a car; I commute via buses and trains, which are always crowded. I work in an open office.

And I almost never use Siri.


Thanks for reading.