While there hasn’t been much news about Apple’s rumoured self-driving car project lately, it seems that the project is still continuing, with The Verge reporting today that a self-driving car expert, MacCallister Higgins, has tweeted out a picture of what he says is Apple’s “Project Titan” out and about.
The car has certainly changed a lot from the last time a similar vehicle was spotted back in April of this year. The white Lexus has six Velodyne-made LIDAR sensors, various radar units, and several cameras, all coated in white plastic.
The photographer who captured the video is the co-founder of a startup called Voyage that has just launched a pilot self-driving taxi scheme in a retirement community in San Jose, so he knows what he’s talking about.
Underneath Higgins’ original tweet about the Project Titan car, someone else posted another picture of one of the cars, saying “I saw one of these a few weeks ago pull up to an Apple shuttle stop-sit there for a few then drove off.”
Source: Here’s a closer look at Apple’s secret self-driving car
MacRumors reports today that Apple has continued to expand one of the most popular features of its Maps app by adding indoor maps for eight more airports in the United States.
The newly added airports include O’Hare International and Midway International in Chicago; McCarran International in Las Vegas; Baltimore-Washington International; Miami International; Minneapolis-Saint Paul International; Oakland International; and Portland International. They join the original two airports that were introduced via iOS 11, namely Philadelphia International and San Jose International.
Now when you search for the above-mentioned airports on Apple Maps, you can select “Look Inside” or just zoom in to see the terminals, boarding gates, security gates, check-in desks, baggage claim area, info kiosks, restrooms, shops, restaurants, parking garages, as well as stairs, elevators, and escalators, among other things.
The new feature is so detailed that you can even browse floor-by-floor, or look for specific shops or other amenities in a specific terminal. And even better than that, another incredibly useful aspect of the indoor maps is that when you tap on the name of a restaurant you will see more details and photos about the restaurant, including opening hours.
Presumably more airports will be added soon in the US and then worldwide.
Source: Apple Continues Rolling Out Indoor Maps of Airports in iOS 11
AppleInsider reports today on a post on Apple’s Machine Learning blog that details exactly what happens when you use the “Hey Siri” command with your iOS device.
In particular, the blog post explains the role of the detector, which is a speech recognizer that is always listening out for the special wake-up words, but also has to be able to filter out other noises.
Apple explains that the hardware inside your iPhone or Apple Watch, in particular, turns the human voice into a stream of instantaneous waveform samples at 16000 per second. Approximately 0.2 seconds of audio at a time is sent to a “Deep Neural Network,” which classifies it and then determines the likelihood of it being the activation phrase and then sends that to the rest of the system.
Several sensitivity thresholds are set, and if the score is in the median range, then the software will listen more closely for the second time so that the phrase is not missed.
The waveform goes to the Siri server, and if the speech recognizer hears that something else has been said other than Hey Siri, such as “Hey seriously,” then a cancellation signal will be sent by the server to the phone so that it will go back into sleep mode.
Apparently, the Apple Watch being so much smaller than an iPhone leads to a unique set of problems that are solved by having the Hey Siri detector only running when the watch motion coprocessor determines that the wrist has been raised.
Sources: Latest Apple machine learning research paper discusses how the 'Hey Siri' invocation works
9to5 Mac reports today on a rather unusual Google Maps iOS update, which included the addition of a “mini cupcakes” distance measurement for how many calories are burned when you walk a particular distance.
It certainly looks like a fun and cute way of letting people know just how many calories they’ll be burning when they walk, but it seems that not everyone saw the cute or fun side of the update, as Google decided to remove the offending cupcakes just 24 hours after they first appeared due to complaints from some quarters, such as Buzzfeed, which said that “for some, it feels, well, judgey.” Others complained about the fact that there was no way of turning the cupcakes off.
The end result was that Google removed the cupcakes, although it said that it was because it was only a test feature, and not even rolled out to all users.
Source: Google Maps gets – and then loses – cupcakes in short-lived iOS app update
Cult of Mac reports that New Yorker James Green from Brooklyn has his Apple Watch to thank for saving his life by detecting a pulmonary embolism. Twenty-eight-year-old Green says that he bought his Apple Watch because he’s a serial data-tracker and bought it to use it for the notifications and to track his bike rides.
Unbeknownst to Green, he was suffering from a pulmonary embolism, which did not reveal itself with any symptoms. However, when wearing his Apple Watch, the HeartWatch app notified him that his heart rate was unusually high despite him being inactive. On checking some older readings, he realised that he had an urgent medical problem, and on going to hospital the doctors confirmed that he had a pulmonary embolism.
“Never thought a stupid lil wrist computer I bought 2 years ago would save my life. Saw my heart rate go up, ending up being a pulmonary embolism,” tweeted Green.
7 News reported that Green said in a subsequent tweet that he has now been officially discharged from hospital, and that he will now have to be on blood thinners to save his life.
Stories like these are why I find Apple’s research on how the Apple Watch might be used to check for high blood pressure to be so exciting. That is surely the next big step from the company in its bid to make the world healthier, and could affect so many lives around the world.
Sources: Apple Watch saves man from pulmonary embolism | Cult of Mac
Man says Apple Watch notification saved his life
9to5 Mac reports that according to new data from Kantar, iOS has seen its market share growth increase year-on-year in August in seven of the nine biggest markets that Kantar is monitoring. The most notable exception to the rule is the UK, which saw a two-point fall as the result of a big marketing campaign from Samsung.
In the US, iOS market share rose 3.7 points up to 35% from 31.3% in August 2016. In contrast, Android fell by 2.9 points in the same period.
In the five biggest markets in Europe , iOS marketshare rose 1.2 points to 18.4%, with the exception of the UK, where Kantar says that iOS marketshare fell by 2 points thanks to a robust Samsung in the UK and the release of the Galaxy S8 and J3 (2016) models.
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