AWT News Update: October 18, 2017

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Hump Day! And it's a slow news day as well. That didn't keep us from getting three stories put together for the Apple World Today News Update podcast:

  • We ❤️ Live Home 3D from BeLight Software, our sponsor for this week. Be sure to give it a free trial and see how easy it is to design and envision your own home or interior. 🏡
  • A new paper published on Apple's Machine Learning Journal website talks about how "Hey, Siri" works
  • Apple's Project Titan test cars have new gear mounted on top, which could very well house all of the computing hardware being used in addition to the obvious sensors
  • The new Chicago Michigan Avenue flagship Apple retail store has been sold...but don't worry, it's still opening on Friday, October 20

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for Wednesday, October 18th, 2017. This week’s sponsor is BeLight Software, developers of Live Home 3D. If you’ve ever wanted to design your own home or create a virtual model of an existing home to see how improvements change its looks, then Live Home 3D is for you. The $29.99 app is powerful and easy to use, and you can get full information on Live Home 3D at this link

Apple has been publishing papers about its machine learningexperimentation on a website called the Machine Learning Journal. Machine learning is what gives Siri the ability to understand our voices and respond to questions or commands, or Photos to “look” at pictures and recognize faces or scenes. A recently published article talks about how Hey Siri uses a Deep Neural Network to convert the acoustic pattern of your voice into a probability distribution over speech sounds. If it thinks that you said “Hey Siri” it begins to prepare to recognize the following speech as a command, while if you really said “Hey Seriously” it would stop recognizing. The article looks at both the machine learning and speech recognition aspects of Siri. Now if Siri could just get a better handle on southern and Scottish accents, the world would be a better place…

A short video clip appeared on Twitter today, purporting to show new test hardware installed atop one of the cars used for Apple’s Project Titan self-driving car platform. The video came from MacCallister Higgins, who is the co-founder of a self-driving startup called Voyage. The new system isn’t as cobbled together as the previous installation, but it’s still rather ungainly. It includes a bunch of different cameras and radar units, in addition to six Velodyne LIDAR sensors, all neatly housed in white plastic to match the White Lexus it’s installed on top of. Higgins believes that Apple’s computing hardware is located in the roof-mounted unit, unlike other self-driving cars that move equipment into the trunks of vehicles. Apple is being highly secretive about Project Titan, and only this year revealed that it is doing research and development. It’s thought that Apple will be in partnership with another firm or firms to create a ride hailing business based on self-driving cars, and it’s testing part of this technology on what’s called the PAIL — Palo Alto to Infinite Loop — shuttle. That shuttle would drive along a preset route, picking up Apple employees at shuttle stops and taking them to other Apple facilities. 

Apple’s Chicago flagship store located on Michigan Avenue has a new owner…but the store, which is set for its grand opening this Friday, will still be all Apple’s to use. The store was sold to Walton Street Capital on October 4 which purchased the 35-story office tower and the plaza on which the Apple Store sits for $360 million from Zeller Realty Group. The store is notable for several reasons; it’s in the classy Michigan Avenue shopping district, fronts the Chicago River, has a large outside plaza for concerts, and features all glass walls with a shiny roof resembling an Apple laptop. The store contains 20,000 square feet of retail space.

That’s all for today; I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.