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Friday, May 22, 2015

Apple’s Small iOS 8.3 Updates Speak Volumes About Where It's Headed

What easier app downloads and Siri updates are really saying.

Apple siri iosApple may have finally succumbed to common sense: A reader at 9to5Mac
spotted some new settings in the upcoming iOS 8.3 software that suggest
iPhone users should get ready for easier app downloads and more
convenient voice features.

Judging by the iOS 8.3 beta, people
will be able to nix the password requirement for free downloads. The
update also points to a new Siri feature that can launch speakerphone
calls without touching the phone at all.

These feature updates
might seem incremental, but they hint at Apple’s larger play: They are
stepping stones to a future in which enjoying new Apple features and
talking to our Apple devices—on our wrists, at home and on the road—will
become second nature.

Password Play

Passwords weren’t always necessary for freebies,
but the iPhone maker inexplicably built in the requirement. Now it
appears users will be able to toggle it on or off in iOS 8.3. The beta
version, released last week, shows the setting under the new “Password
Settings” configuration page (in the iTunes & App Store settings).
Note that the change covers free apps, media or other iTunes offerings
only; there is no way to turn off passwords for paid downloads.

notes that the setting hasn’t been activated in the beta software, but
it will likely be available in the final release.

See also: Apple's Emoji Characters Will Soon Look More Like The World
The new password option joins other changes spotted in iOS 8.3, including:

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  • Ethnically diverse emoji characters
  • Two-factor authentication for Google services
  • Apple Pay for China
  • Expanded Siri support for seven new languages
  • Improved keyboard
  • Wireless CarPlay features
The latter may offer a clue as to why Apple gave Siri control over the speaker.

What The Updates Are Saying

AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety took aim at voice features—Siri, in particular—last
fall, so Apple's efforts to appease critics with a simpler hands-free
calling for drivers makes sense, especially as part of Apple’s overall
push to make its technology vehicle-friendly.

Initially, users
could only trigger the Siri voice feature by holding down the home
button. Apple eventually gave users the ability to activate it by saying
“Hey Siri” (when the device is plugged into power). Users can now place
calls this way, but they’d still have to use headphones or hold the
phone up to their ear.

By allowing speech activation for the
speakerphone, there’s no need to physically handle the device at all,
just to place a call. Ideally, that should reduce driver distraction.

The company seems to be firing on all cylinders now. Its previous iOS 8.2 software, released a couple of weeks ago, brought Apple Watch support into the fold, as well as improvements to HealthKit and other bug fixes. Apple also filed a patent for an iPhone dock that could feasibly turn into a smart home hub for its latent HomeKit initiative, and is expected to release a brand-new Apple TV with the App Store and Siri, plus a new streaming live TV service.

common thread in most cases are apps and, increasingly, voice features.
Given that, Apple's focus on these areas should come as no shock. They
all play into the windfall of Apple technologies about to head our way.
That much seems to be loud and clear.

Lead image created by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite


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