Posted 09/11/2015 at 5:27pm | by Leif Johnson
One of the big potential problems of an always-on Siri is the likeliness of “Hey, Siri” accidentally activating on several different phones at once, but some iOS beta testers have shown that Apple may have already provided a way of avoiding that. And for a bit of Friday fun, Siri yesterday interrupted a White House press conference with a humorous response, and elsewhere, the NFL is still calling its Microsoft Surface tablets “iPads.”
iOS 9.1 Beta Suggests Siri May Learn Its Individual Owner’s Voice
Now that the public beta for iOS 9.1 is out, testers are starting to discover features that go far beyond the iPad Pro features at the heart of the patch. Now, as MacRumors reports, early exploring seems to show that Apple has included a set-up option for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus’ always-on “Hey, Siri” feature that helps Apple’s personal assistant recognize your specific voice when it hears “Hey, Siri.”
It’s currently thought that the feature will help Siri distinguish the voice of its owner from those of other people, much as Touch ID gets better at recognizing its owner the more the owner uses it. This could be important, as an iPhone owner calling out “Hey, Siri” in a crowded room might cause dozens of phones to go off at once without such protections. So far, it seems as though Siri will ask owners to speak certain phrases in order to get used to the sound of the owner’s voice.
Of course, it could all just mean that the feature is simply aimed at helping Siri recognize voices in general. Unfortunately, Apple so far hasn’t released a statement confirming or denying the speculation, and the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus obviously aren’t out yet for testing. Still, if you want to play around with the feature in its incompatible state in the beta, you’ll find it under General > Siri > Allow “Hey Siri.”
Siri Accidentally Activates During White House Press Conference; Humor Ensues
And wouldn’t you know it? A new story has emerged demonstrating why granting Siri an ability to recognize its owner’s voice might come in handy. Yesterday afternoon, Apple’s virtual assistant grabbed more headlines yesterday after she “answered” a question at a White House press briefing on the Iran nuclear deal.[embedded content]
The brief moment of humor occurred when a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest if President Obama was disappointed that he’d been unable to secure Republican backing for the deal. Siri was accidentally activated on someone’s phone in the largely quiet room and she answered, “Sorry, I’m not sure what you want me to change.”
The well-timed response sparked laughter from both Earnest and reporters in the room. You can watch the C-SPAN video of the moment above.
NFL Once Again Calls Microsoft Surface Tablets ‘iPads’
It’s a sure sign of Apple’s success with the iPad that, even amid declining sales and an increasingly crowded field of competitors, the word iPad is still synonymous with “tablet computer.” More often than not, that works in Apple’s favor. Take the NFL, for instance — even with Microsoft paying a whopping $400 million in order to promote its own tablet, commentators and players keep referring to the devices on the field as “iPads” (via Cult of Mac).
Last night’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots marked the first game in the season, and following a commercial break, announcer Al Michaels noted that Patriots coach Bill Belichick was standing on the sidelines with “his iPad.” Ouch.
It’s all especially funny because Microsoft seems to be fighting a losing battle (or, more appropriately, a losing game). Last year, for instance, players and coaches were caught calling the new Surface tablets “iPad-like tools” (via CNBC) and Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears referred to Microsoft’s tablets as “knockoff iPads” (via CBS Sports).
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