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Apple touts A.I. in iOS -- with barely a mention of the term -- and opens 'crown jewels' to devs

Gregg Keizer | June 14, 2016
Execs walk developers through new features, enhancements in all four of its operating systems.

"They opened up domains that were Apple's exclusive playgrounds," Dawson added. "That will create some new business models for developers and new types of apps."

"But they did that in a smart way, the way Apple normally does things," Milanesi said. "They didn't open it totally, but by domains. So Siri will know where she is, and she'll be smarter because of that. The access is controlled, so that the user will have the best experience."

iOS turns 10

Craig Federighi, who heads OS X and iOS development, unveiled 10 improvements and additions to iOS 10.

But while he ticked off 10 items, some were more equal than others.

As rumored, Siri will be opened to third-party developers to expand the assistant's capabilities on iOS. Out of the box, iOS 10's Siri will work with several of the most popular apps, letting users say, "WeChat Nancy that I'll be five minutes late," as Federighi demonstrated, to hand off the task to WeChat.

Siri will also integrate with other apps, including Skype, Pinterest and Uber for specific chores such as calling, pulling up photos and requesting a ride.


On the photo side, iOS 10 will use facial, object and scene recognition to categorize, then locate images. With the stress lately on artificial intelligence by rivals Microsoft and Google, it wasn't surprising that Federighi said "A.I." more than once to talk up, and then demonstrate, new features in iOS's Photos apps.

Dubbed "Memories," the feature brings specific images to the forefront, those selected by algorithm to highlight, for example, individuals' faces or certain locales. Memories also auto-assembles photographs into a collection, a recognition that people take stills and video, but rarely put them into any kind of organization.

iOS's most-used first-party app -- Messages -- also got a whirlwind of new tools, including customized text balloons, obscured images that appear with a slide of the finger, larger emojis, rich links and Digital Touch, the draw-on-the-screen feature brought from watchOS.

"Apple's enhancements to Messages acknowledges [the] fun that has driven messaging apps, but stakes out own ground," argued Ross Rubin, an analyst at App Annie, in a tweet during the keynote.

Apple imessages new features
Apple will open Messages' APIs to developers.

And Apple will open Messages' APIs so developers can, for instance, craft animated "stickers" for use in texts, or send payments and order food via Messages.

iOS 10 will support devices as far back as the iPhone 5 and iPad 2, the former from 2012, the latter from 2011, and both now discontinued.

OS X is dead, long live macOS


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