Apple World Today News Update: January 24, 2018

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A short edition of the Apple World Today News Update podcast today:

  • Siri - a half-billion devices now use Apple's intelligent assistant, up almost 125 million from June of 2017
  • We look in detail at some of the new features expected in iOS 11.3 later this spring

The text version of the podcast can be read below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Apple News readers need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for Wednesday, January 24, 2018.  

Hidden in a press release about HomePod yesterday was an interesting note about Siri. In the note, Apple said that “Siri, now actively used on over a half a billion devices, has developed a deep knowledge of music and understands your preferences and tastes.” That shows a significant increase in devices since Apple last released figures about Siri adoption in June of 2017, where the company pointed to a 375 million device figure. That means that Apple added almost 125 million new devices to the Siri active users list.  It’s thought that this number consists of 87.7 million new iPhones, 21.7 million iPads, and 9.7 million Macs, in addition to 10 to 15 million Apple Watches. The new Apple TVs also support Siri, and the new HomePod — which ships on February 9th — will also increase usage of Apple’s intelligent voice assistant.

Apple’s announcement of the upcoming iOS 11.3 update later this spring brought some very interesting new features out of the dark and there are some that will be quite useful. First, Apple will be adding new features that show battery health and will recommend on whether or not a battery needs to be serviced. It will be possible to see if the power management feature that throttles performance on iPhones with degraded battery is being used, and users will be able to turn off throttling if desired. This is in response to the many Class Actions lawsuits filed against Apple in which a common thread was that Apple purposely slowed down iPhones without user knowledge or consent to get those people to purchase new iPhones. Another of the new features that will be very useful is called Business Chat. This feature lets users communicate directly with businesses right in the Messages app. At launch, Discover card, Hilton Hotels, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo will support the feature, which lets a user have a conversation with a service representative, schedule an appointment or even make a purchase or payment using Apple Pay. Business Chat won’t share a user’s contact information with businesses, and a user can stop chatting at any time. Finally, the other big deal — in my opinion — will be the ability to see health records from participating medical institutions in the Health app. The app will make it possible to view those records — including lab results, medications, medical conditions and more — in the Health app and receive notifications when new information arrives. 

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