According to AppleInsider, Marriott is currently putting both Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa through their paces at an Aloft hotel in Boston in an effort to decide which one they will use to help guests control their rooms via voice commands.

The original report by Bloomberg says that Marriott could be making the final choice “as early as mid-year.” Once the approved assistant is picked by Marriott, the company will then decide which of the its chains will use the feature.

The Boston hotel is using Echo speakers for Alexa, and a combination of iPhones and iPads to test Siri.

Despite this, you would think that the decision has already been made in favour of Alexa, though, as AppleInsider notes that the JW Marriott in San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa has Alexa installed in 10 of its 1,002 rooms with 100 more to go online next month. Another chain, Wynn, intends to equip all of its 4,748 rooms in its Las Vegas resort with an Echo by the summer.

However, clearly, Marriott is not totally convinced by Alexa, hence the current round of tests of both systems. As AppleInsider notes, while Alexa has the benefit of affordability on its side, Siri has one very big advantage, especially as far as a hotel chain is concerned, in that it supports 21 languages, whereas Alexa only supports English and German.

In future, Marriott is planning to even use virtual assistants to set automatic wake-up temperatures or schedule when to open drapes.

Source: Marriott likely to decide on Apple Siri or Amazon Alexa for hotels later this year

AppleInsider reports that Apple has today announced a new range of seasonal bands for the Apple Watch in a variety of colours and designs, as well as making the Nike Sport Band available to buy separately without being bundled with the Nike edition Apple Watch.

Starting off with the new Apple Watch sport bands, all of which cost $49, the new colours are Camellia, Pebble, and Azure.

The special edition Nike sport perforated bands are also priced at $49, and are available in Black/Volt, Anthracite/Black, and Pure Platinum/White.

Apple is offering six new spring colours for the woven nylon band range, also all priced at $49.

These are: Orange, Berry, Red, Pollen, Tahoe Blue, and Midnight Blue.

As far as the higher-end bands are concerned, Apple is offering new $149 classic leather bands and $489 Hermès Leather collection bands.

First off with the classic leather bands, they are now available in seven new options: Saddle Brown, Berry, Taupe, Sapphire, Red, Midnight Blue, and Black. The new Hermès Leather bands are Fauve Barenia and Blue Zéphyr Epsom.

Meanwhile, in another report today, AppleInsider also noted that as well as introducing a whole new range of choices in Apple Watch bands, Apple has cut back on the choice of bands that are bundled with a new Apple Watch, with only a Milanese Loop or Sport Band available with a Series 2 watch. The previous options such as the Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, and Link Bracelet, are all still available to buy separately, you just won’t be able to choose them to go with your new watch right out of the box. However, if you’re quick, you might still be able to get some of the old bundles, as AppleInsider says that it has heard from an anonymous source that some Apple Stores still have old stock of the previous bundles that they have been allowed to sell.

Sources:...

Apple has today announced a new app for iPhone and iPad for creating video clips to share through the Messages app, Instagram, Facebook, and other social networks such as YouTube, Vimeo. Clips also includes Live Titles, a new feature that lets you create animated captions and titles using nothing but your voice, with the available effects including comic book filters, speech bubbles, shapes, and full-screen animated posters.
You can use Clips to create multi-clip videos on iPhone or iPad without timelines, tracks, or having to use editing tools. Simply touch and hold a single button to record live video and photos or to add them from the Photo Library. You can then add artistic filters, speech bubbles, shapes or emoji, as well as full-screen posters with animated backgrounds and customizable text. You can choose from dozens of music soundtracks for your mini masterpiece, and they all automatically adjust to fit the exact length of your video.

To make a Live Title in Clips, with animated captions and titles, simply speak into the phone to automatically generate the captions, which will then appear on screen in perfect sync with your voice. You can mix and match different styles, and tap the title to adjust text and punctuation, or even add inline emoji. Thirty-Six different languages will be supported by Live Title at launch.

Clips will be available in April and will be free to download.

Source: Apple

Just as expected, Apple has today announced an updated version of its most popular-sized iPad, the 9.7-inch model, complete with a brighter Retina display with 3.1 million pixels and improved performance, all at its most affordable price ever, starting at $329. The iPad Air 2 has been discontinued.
The new iPad’s aluminum unibody case weighs just one pound. The Apple-designed A9 chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture offers fast processing and graphics performance without sacrificing battery life.

The 9.7-inch iPad is available in silver, gold, and space gray, with prices starting at $329 for the 32GB with Wi-Fi model and $459 for the 32GB Wi-Fi+ Cellular model. You can order one from this Friday, March 24, for delivery the following week in the US and more than 20 countries.

Also hidden within the “Pricing & Availability” section of the 9.7-inch iPad is the news from Apple that it has increased the basic capacity of the iPad Mini 4 from 32GB to 128GB for the same starting price, making it $399 for 128GB for the Wi-Fi model and $529 for the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

Sources: Apple, Apple Debuts New 9.7-Inch iPad With A9 Chip to Replace iPad Air 2, Starting at $329

MacRumors reports that Apple has just updated the System Status page to show that its online store will be undergoing maintenance tomorrow, between midnight and 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time. This has led to speculation that Apple could be about to launch new products, as has been rumoured recently, particularly as the maintenance occurs at a time when Apple always traditionally issues press releases. Could it be that when the store comes back online tomorrow, we’ll have some new products to order?

While we won’t know for sure until tomorrow, it’s certainly sounding very likely that we will. MacRumors says that it was told by a well-known research firm last week that it expects Apple to release new products this week. The firm in question did not give specific information about which products it believes Apple will announce this week, but it’s thought that the company will be launching as many as three new iPad models, as well as possibly a new 128GB iPhone SE model. However, there have also been several recent rumours that the 10.5-inch iPad Pro has been delayed and won’t be announced this week but at a special event in April.

Source: Apple Online Store Going Down for 'Maintenance' Tomorrow Morning Ahead of Rumored Product Updates

Philips has today announced its new Hue E14 candle/chandelier bulb, writes AppleInsider. With the launch of the new 40-watt equivalent, 470 lumen at 4,000 kelvin bulb, Philips now supports more than 80% of household light fittings for Hue.

The new E14 bulbs are available in multi-color and white ambiance versions, and, as with other Hue bulbs, are compatible with the iOS HomeKit smart home platform. They can also be used with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Next, and Samsung SmartThings. The open Hue platforms means that the bulbs can work with over 600 apps, devices, and platforms.

The new E14 bulbs are set to launch in Europe by the end of April, costing €34.95 for the ambient white version. They will also be available in North America later in the year, pricing as yet to be determined. No pricing details have been revealed yet for the multi-colour versions.

Source: Philips expands iOS-connected Hue smart bulbs with chandelier E14 light socket sizes


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