The It-Is-Natural Edition Thursday, September 7, 2017

How Apple Finally Made Siri Sound More Human, by David Pierce, Wired

The first time Alex Acero saw Her, he watched it like a normal person. The second time, he didn't watch the movie at all. Acero, the Apple executive in charge of the tech behind Siri, sat there with his eyes closed, listening to how Scarlett Johansson voiced her artificially intelligent character Samantha. He paid attention to how she talked to Theodore Twombly, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and how Twombly talked back. Acero was trying to discern what about Samantha could make someone fall in love without ever seeing her.

When I ask Acero what he learned about why the voice worked so well, he laughs because the answer is so obvious. "It is natural!" he says. "It was not robotic!" This hardly counts as a revelation for Acero. Mostly, it confirmed that his team at Apple has spent the last few years on the right project: making Siri sound more human.

I Looked At A Map Of Every Connection My Computer Was Making — And It Wasn’t Pretty, by Russell Brandom, The Verge

The idea behind Little Snitch is to put you in control of those connections, but I don’t feel in control. I can block any of the domains at any time — all I have to do is click the red switch next to the name — but I’m nervous about how much damage that would do.

Red Sox Cheating Scandal Highlights Apple Watch’s Illicit Uses, by Tiffany Hsu, New York Times

The Red Sox were not the first to see illicit opportunities with the Apple Watch.

Users on Reddit have posted about cheating on exams by transferring documents to their watch. One video on YouTube from 2015 declared the Apple Watch the “New Easiest Way To Cheat in Exam” and garnered more than 180,000 views.

But testing firms have responded.

Entertainment This Week

Apple Reaches Music Deal With Warner, Eyes Sony Pact, by Lucas Shaw and Alex Webb, Bloomberg

Apple plans to pay record labels a smaller percentage of sales from Apple Music subscribers than it did under its first deal for the streaming service, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information.


Large technology companies and music rights holders are establishing a framework this year for how to share proceeds from on-demand streaming, now the dominant source of sales for the record business in the U.S. Music rights holders are willing to accept a slightly smaller share of the sales from on-demand services, provided those services continue to sign up paying subscribers at a high rate.

Apple, Amazon Join Race For James Bond Film Rights, by Tatiana Siegel, Hollywood Reporter

The James Bond sweepstakes has taken an unexpected turn. While Warner Bros. remains in the lead to land film distribution rights to the megafranchise — whose deal with Sony expired after 2015’s Spectre — a couple of unlikely suitors have emerged that also are in hot pursuit: Apple and Amazon.

The tech giants are willing to spend in the same ballpark as Warners, if not much more, for the rights, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. MGM has been looking for a deal for more than two years, and Sony, Universal and Fox also had been pursuing the property, with Warners and Sony the most aggressive.

Apple Recruits Four Veteran Execs To Join Growing TV Unit, by Daniel Holloway, Variety

Kim Rozenfeld, formerly head of current programming at Sony Pictures Television, is joining the tech giant as its future head of current and the lead executive on documentary series development.


It’s 10 P.M. Do You Know What Apps Your Children Are Using?, by Hayley Krjscher, New York Times

But social media apps are appendages for tweens and teens. It’s one way they earn social currency. Below, a guide to what parents will (or should) be anxiously monitoring during this busy back-to-school season.

Quick Tip: Zip Files As Templates, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

You could recreate your files and folders every time you start a new project. Or you could do what I do, which is create an example of the file and folder structure that I prefer and then make a zip archive of it in the Finder, ready to be re-deployed every time I need a new one.

Kobo’s iOS App Now Offers Audiobooks, Including Audible-style $10/month Subscription, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

As with Audible, the $10/month subscription gets you one book, regardless of its normal price. If you want more, you can buy additional three-pack credits for $30, with a maximum of 24 credits held in your account at any one time.


Apple Says Its Developer Service Was Affected By A Bug Not A Security Breach, by Jon Russell, TechCrunch

The company issued the following note to developers which explains that an unspecified bug caused the temporary issue, which it said impacted “some” but seemingly not all developers:


Apple Will Help Choose Investment Manager For Irish Tax Billions, by Dara Doyle, Bloomberg

If the appeal, which could take as long as five years, is successful, the money will be returned to Apple. Ireland had sought an indemnity to make sure it isn’t liable for any drop in the value of the fund while the case winds its way through the EU courts. Apple’s role in choosing the fund managers could be one compromise to help resolve that issue.

Silicon Valley’s Politics: Liberal, With One Big Exception, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

The survey suggests a novel but paradoxical vision of the future of American politics: Technologists could help push lawmakers, especially Democrats, further to the left on many social and economic issues. But they may also undermine the influence of some of the Democrats’ most stalwart supporters, including labor unions. And they may strive to push Democrats away from regulation on business — including the growing calls for greater rules around the tech industry.

Bottom of the Page

The iMac Pro is going to be bundled exclusively with a black Magic Keyboard and a black Magic Mouse.

Will the upcoming iPhone Pro / Edition / X be sold with a pair of not-sold-anywhere-else black AirPods?


Thanks for reading.