This issue we focus on Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) that took place last week. The headline story: Siri receives a whole bunch of new features that increases the voice assistant’s functionality with third-party apps.

We also address the story that almost overshadowed the WWDC…

Enjoy!

Hi Mum! Said Dad


Craig Fedrighi, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, showcasing Siri’s new functionalities at the WWDC (Image: HowToGeek)

Siri takes steps towards setting herself apart from Alexa and Google Assistant

In the past year, many claims have been made about Apple’s Siri Voice Assistant lagging behind the Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. Case and point — Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends report (which we spoke about last issue) praised the Google Assistant and Alexa, without any mentioning of Siri…

In last week’s annual WWDC, Apple announced some impressive features they are bringing to Siri, that may level out the playing field…

In the upcoming iOS 12 update, Siri’s AI will study your behaviour across all apps on your phone, and actively suggest you actions based on things you do habitually. For example, when Siri notices that you are at the movies (e.g. by seeing a ticket in your Apple wallet), she will suggest switching to Do Not Disturb. Or, when Siri notices that your location is at the gym, she will suggest you to turn on your workout playlist and start your preferred workout app.

Siri Suggestions will be accessible from the iPhone Search Screen as well as the Lock Screen — similar to the way notifications are displayed.

Third-party developers will be able to leverage the technology behind Suggestions in a new developer tool, that enables Siri to be integrated directly into their own apps. If Siri notices that her user has a routined action in an app — e.g. order coffee daily at 8am in the Starbucks app — app developers can place buttons in their apps telling users to add the routine to Siri Suggestions.

But that’s not all — Apple also showcased a new app called Siri Shortcuts. The technology in the app is based on that acquired from Workflow, a task automation app that allows users to combine multiple actions on their iOS device into a single “shortcut”. With the Siri Shortcuts, the set of actions can be launched by a single voice command.

During the live demonstration, the presenter told Siri that she was “heading home” (one of her pre-build shortcuts) and her iPhone simultaneously launched directions home in Apple Maps, set her home thermostat to 70 degrees, turned on her fan, messaged her ETA to a roommate and launched her preferred radio station. Very impressive…

Siri is playing noticeably a bigger role in iOS 12 compared to previous editions. Siri’s interactions with third-party apps is becoming more and more prevalent, meaning that developers need to be increasingly aware of how their apps cater for voice…

By Oliver Iyer, Strategist


Apples ARkit 2 allows multiple user to play the same augmented reality game (Image: Macworld)

More highlights from the WWDC:

iOS 12

With iOS 12, Apple has focused on improving the performance of both old and new devices. These performance improvements should make apps launch faster, the keyboard to appear faster and the Camera quicker to open. The new OS has been designed to run on all devices able to run iOS 11.

ARkit 2

Last year, Apple released ARkit — a tool that allows third-party developers to create stunning augmented reality apps on the iOS. Our shameful favourite: AR Dragon. At the WWDC, Apple announced the next version of ARkit — ARKit 2. In this update, AR apps become more collaborative, as multiple users can take part in the same augmented reality experience at the same time.

UIkit

Apple also announced that they are working on a project called UIkit — a developer tool which enables larger code cross between Mac and iOS, making it easy to port iOS apps over to the MacOS . At the keynote, Apple showcased how they are already trialing this with some of their own apps like News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home.

By Oliver Iyer, Strategist


(Image: The Verge)

Microsoft steals some of Apple’s WWDC thunder

The week of the WWDC is usually dominated by news of Apple’s latest announcement — but this year it was not the case. The announcementthat Microsoft acquired open source software platform GitHub Inc. for $7.5 Billion was one the biggest tech-headlines of the week.

GitHub is essentially a platform where developers can upload and host open source software, making it free and accessible for other developers to use and suggest changes to the project. It has a passionate user base of 27 million, that maintain 80 million projects on it.

Many developers in the online community feel betrayed by the acquisition, as GitHub is seen as a platform that in the past has been uninfluenced by large corporations. The news sparked an interesting discussion in the office on what lies ahead for GitHub.

Ed, Lead Android Developer, said that he will continue using GitHub, adding:

“I see the move as a positive one for Microsoft, who, despite previously being against free open source software, certainly have been going in the right direction in the past few years”.

Marcin, Solutions Architect, also sees the move as a promising one : “Microsoft have successfully improved open source platforms in the past, such as Mono and Xamarin”

By Jeevan Jayaprakash, Strategist


Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s weekly newsletter, H! Lites.

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