Apple’s Next Big Thing

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Welcome back! 🍎
Here’s what’s new with Apple.

  • Apple’s “next big thing”

  • The EU is back at it again

  • Apple’s new AI system revealed

  • The software drought is over

  • & more!

📖 Read time: 4.2 minutes

📊 Poll

Last week, I asked: What are you hoping to see with iOS 18, aside from AI features?

Here are some of my favorite replies:

More customization - “I’m ready for more customization on my iPhone. Yes we have widgets etc now but I would like to be able to download different themes and such without needing to use the Shortcuts app. It’s due to the lack of customization that makes me think about switching to Samsung every now and then.”

Stability - “Over the last few years some rather nasty bugs have appeared. While they may be small, they start to pile up and get really annoying. That would be nice to see fixed. I don’t really need more customization, I’ve always liked iOS the way it is.”

This week: Would you buy an Apple Robot that followed you around the house? More on this below.

Would you buy an Apple Robot?

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🗞️ The Latest

🤖 Apple’s Next Big Thing

Amazon Astro

Last month, Apple killed its $10B Apple Car project. Now, they’re researching new areas for its “next big thing.”

  • Engineers at Apple have been exploring a mobile robot that can follow you around your home.

  • The original concept for the robot was a device that could navigate entirely on its own without human intervention and serve as a videoconferencing tool.

  • One idea within Apple was having it be able to handle chores, like cleaning dishes in a sink.

  • That would require overcoming “extraordinarily difficult” engineering challenges, so don’t expect to see this any time soon.

  • Apple has a “secret facility” near its Cupertino campus that is designed to look like the inside of a house. That’s where the supposed testing is currently taking place.

This sounds like a more advanced version of Amazon’s Astro home robot.

The Smart Display

Meta Portal

  • Apple has also developed an advanced table-top home device that uses robotics to move a display around.

  • Similar to Meta’s defunct Portal and Amazon’s Echo Show, this display could mimic head movements — such as nodding — while on a FaceTime call.

  • It could also be able to “precisely lock on to a single person among a crowd during a video call.”

  • The robotic smart display has apparently “been added and removed from Apple’s product roadmap over the years.”

While the robotics category is foreign to Apple, their recent AI advancements can open up a world of opportunity in this sector.

Although it’s still in the early research phase, I couldn’t help but think about privacy. This robot will theoretically be able to see your house, hear private conversations, etc.

That is where I can see Apple having a major edge, even if companies like Google and Meta beat them to market.

Together with The Rundown.

What’s the secret to staying ahead of the curve in the world of AI? Information. Luckily, you can join early adopters reading The Rundown– the free newsletter that makes you smarter on AI with just a 5-minute read per day.

🧐 The EU is at it Again

The EU might soon require Apple to allow iPhone users to delete the Photos app. Here are the details:

  • The EU’s Executive Vice President said that allowing users to remove the Photos app was something that Apple failed to do in its DMA response.

Under Article 6(3) of the DMA, gatekeepers have an obligation to enable easy uninstallation of apps and easy change of default settings. They must also display a choice screen. Apple’s compliance model does not seem to meet the objectives of this obligation.

Apple also failed to make several apps un-installable (one of them would be Photos).

Margrethe Vestager, EU’s Executive Vice President
  • The Photos app is not just an app like Safari or Music, it’s the system-level interface to the camera roll.

  • Vestager is saying that to be compliant with the DMA, Apple needs to allow 3rd party apps to serve as the system-level image library and camera roll.

  • The Photos app is an integral part of the Apple ecosystem across all devices. Supporting alternative default photo management applications would force Apple to restructure iOS and the entire ecosystem.

  • Plus, photos contain sensitive information that Apple has always done a tremendous job at keeping secure.

Apple has never prevented anyone from using 3rd party photo management apps and it’s unlikely that another app will secure your photos the way Apple does.

The European Union has done a lot of good over the years but this seems absurd.

Thoughts on this proposition by the EU? Vote below!

Do you agree with the EU here?

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🦾 Apple’s New AI System

This week, Apple researchers introduced ReALM, a new AI system that could improve Siri's ability to understand context in a conversation, process onscreen content, and detect background activities.

  • ReALM uses a new approach of converting screen info to text, at an on-device level.

  • ReALM “substantially outperformed” OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, despite having fewer parameters.

Here’s how the paper describes the tasks:

1. On-screen Entities: These are entities that are currently displayed on a user’s screen

2. Conversational Entities: These are entities relevant to the conversation. These entities might come from a previous turn for the user (for example, when the user says “Call Mom”, the contact for Mom would be the relevant entity in question), or from the virtual assistant (for example, when the agent provides a user a list of places or alarms to choose from).

3. Background Entities: These are relevant entities that come from background processes that might not necessarily be a direct part of what the user sees on their screen or their interaction with the virtual agent; for example, an alarm that starts ringing or music that is playing in the background.

Example use case (via TR): If scrolling through a website and you want to call a business, a user could tell Siri to “call the business“, and Siri would be able to “see“ the phone number on the website and call it directly.

ReALM is a big leap forward for Apple, as context-awareness has been a weakness of Siri for years.

If this gets implemented this year, I’d expect a more significant Siri upgrade than analysts are predicting. Exciting times!

🧐 Apple Responds to Security Threat & More

Last week, we discussed the scary new Apple ‘MFA Bombing’ attack. Apple has responded. Here are the details.

  • Only a few days after the reports of the ‘MFA bombing’ attacks, Apple issued a statement saying that they “know about the few recent cases of these phishing attacks and Apple has taken action to solve the problem.”

  • This video answers many of the misconceptions about the attack and why it is something you should take seriously.

2024 AirPods

  • Apple is planning to release a lower-cost pair of AirPods later this year.

  • AirPods Max 2 are also now expected in Q4 of this year. Gurman previously reported that USB-C and new color options are the only expected changes.

End of Software Drought

After going 5 weeks without a new Beta release, Apple finally ended that drought this week with several software updates.

  • iOS 17.5 Beta includes a few minor changes and a big one for those living in the EU. Here’s my video covering the details.

  • Apple also released Beta software for iPadOS, watchOS, macOS, tvOS, and visionOS.

  • iPadOS 17.5 Beta 1 contains references to a new “squeeze” gesture that is expected to be for the upcoming Apple Pencil 3.

    • The gesture can be used for quick interactions such as adding shapes, signatures, stickers, or a text field.

  • Apple also dropped a new firmware update for AirPods Max. The new build number is 6A325.

  • Expect a break from software next week and for it to pick back up the following week.

📰 Quick News Bites

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