What Apple's past purchases tell us about their future products

Apple TV
Apple TV (Image credit: iMore)

Carolina Milanesi, writing for Techpinions:

There is a lot of speculation about the "iPhone 8" and what Apple should be focusing on in 2017 in order to stay ahead of the game or, for some, barely keep up with competition. Despite some safe bets on the new iPhone features that can be extrapolated from supply-chain clues, guessing, even correctly, what Apple will do is almost as unlikely as winning the lottery. I thought, however, that looking at the 2016 acquisitions would give us more than a clue as to where Apple will focus in the future and I share my wish list of what I would like to see come out of Cupertino.

She goes through Emotient, LearnSprout, Flyby Media, LegbaCore, Carpool Karaoke, Turi, Gliimpse, Tuplejump, and Indoor.io. One of the parts that sticks out to me most, though, is this:

Artificial intelligence is probably the best example of how different the expectations vs. what Apple delivers might be. For many, artificial intelligence simply boils down to how smart Siri is. However, intelligence in devices is expressed in many different ways. Learning which color emoji is your preference, learning your most likely route at a given time of the day, understanding a reference to a time and a place in an email and setting up an appointment for you are all examples of how "intelligence" can be used to make our experiences better.

There's an ongoing thread in the community that Apple is somehow late, behind, or hamstrung when it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (MI). No one with any actual knowledge of Apple's AI/ML efforts thinks this, of course, but because Apple has been so tight-lipped in the past, competitors putting it center-stage in 2016, made that the easy if pessimistic take.

Tim Cook let something slip last year, though, about how Apple AI was already doing things like improving battery life.

When you think about the stack Apple controls, from interface down to silicon, it makes Siri literally only the tip of the iceberg. What's buried in the chips, I think, will turn out to be even more important over the next few years.

The rest of Carolina's list is just as interesting. Give it a read.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • And sometimes the AI fails gloriously. I was reading an article about Hollywood costumers, and wanted to Google a word I'd never seen before. So I highlighted it and tapped LookUp in the menu. Usually it gives a dictionary definition and a Wikipedia reference with links to more detail. Now, It opened Maps and showed me the location of a dentist in Germany. Worse is that there was not the usual "search on web" link. Note: I've done nothing recently in safari, etc related to dentists so this response is baffling. Also, for me, for better than a half year, the feedback tool for public beta testers seems to eternally park feedback in a compressing loop in the feedback draft file. So it's pointless even try to share this info via that channel. (I wonder how much good feedback Apple is missing this way.)
  • Apple is dead last when compared to Microsoft, Google, and Amazon in terms of potential for machine learning given their reluctance to limit data to what is on the device. Posted from my Nexus 6P
  • I hired an assistant who didn't quite work out. Problem was she kept ******** things up even multiple times often taking it upon herself to do things to "help" me that weren't assigned (no, not those kinds of things...lol). That doesn't help me. In fact it was kind of annoying and made things worse. That's about what I think of any of the AI's like Siri, Cortana, etc. I can make great use of Siri knowing what to ask and knowing her limitations. But please, stay in the background and don't try to "help" me unprompted. This is what I don't need.
  • since the limitation would' this still be on AI as well... even advanced AI that is "self learning" ? True, its can adapt better, but someone still has to program it. That, to me, would actually be the limitation.. It would be "limited" by what is was able to learn. Its still very impressive.