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Apple WWDC preview: What to expect

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Apple’s iOS 11.4: What you should know before you update

Apple’s iOS 11.4 software update, considered to be a major update for Apple users, hit iPhones Tuesday, just days before the tech giant is expected to announce iOS 12. Here is what you need to know about the new features before you update.

Apple’s annual developer conference starts next week, kicking off with a keynote address on Monday. In general, saw the event, the tech giant is expected to show off the new versions of the operating systems and give a glimpse of where the company is headed in the future.

At the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) Apple will host thousands of developers, journalists and analysts in San Jose, California. if it is necessary to remove the wraps from the latest versions of its iOS, mac os, tvOS and watchOS operating systems.

“As Steve Jobs so aptly described the Apple ecosystem on his last WWDC in 2011′, As the hardware of the brain and the sinew of our products, the software in them is their soul”,” Monness Crespi Hardt analyst Brian White in a research note ahead of the event.

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White expects a lot from the keynote, delivered by Apple’s key executives, including CEO Tim Cook, to focus on iOS, and perhaps privacy, in the light of the aftermath of the recent scandals plaguing the tech industry, including Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“Given the importance of the iPhone to the Apple product family, the new iOS innovations tend to have a fair amount of airtime on the WWDC and we expect that this also applies with iOS-12 next week,” White added. “In the light of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, we would not be surprised if Tim Cook spends a couple of minutes the strengthening of Apple’s commitment to protect the privacy of the customer.”

Bloomberg recently reported that Apple would be the inclusion of a feature known as Digital Health in the iOS 12 software that allows them to see how much time those users spend on their devices and in certain apps.

The Digital Health function would come, after Google, the maker of the Android operating system, which is a similar feature in the developer conference last month.

The iPhone maker has come under fire from some of its investors, as well as members of the academic world, who have claimed that Apple’s products are addictive.

Earlier this week Apple released the latest update of its iOS operating system, iOS 11.4, which includes features such as AirPlay 2 multi-room audio, support for HomePod stereo-pairs, messages, iCloud, and other solutions.

Apple’s popular line-up of Mac computers can also be a refresh at the event, with a number of expected to hear about the new laptops, but that is no certainty.

Monness Crespi Hardt, White expected to hear about updates for the macOS platform after Apple added virtual reality support last year.

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Augmented Reality press

In addition to updates of the operating system, many are expecting to hear an update of what Apple is doing with augmented reality after the show of ARKit, a feature that allows developers to build AR-based apps, in 2017 developer conference.

“We remain optimistic about AR potential,” Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note ahead of the event. “That said, the use cases of AR-to-date have lagged our expectations, as a result of a lack of reliable hardware and software that enables developers to build compelling AR experiences. We expect Apple to announce a subtle new developer tools for the improvement of the AR development process and ultimately yield more compelling AR applications.”

Apple’s Cook has previously declared his abundant optimism for the AR, which places virtual objects on top of the physical objects (instructions for building furniture on the top of the wood, for example), and the potential impact on humanity.

“Simply put, we believe augmented reality is changing the way we use technology forever, Cook said on Apple’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call, held in November last year. “We are already seeing things that will change the way you work, play, connect and learn.”

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Smarter Siri, AI

Apple has received intense amounts of criticism for falling behind the tech brethren, when it comes to the use of artificial intelligence and, in particular, the virtual assistant Siri. Critics have said that Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana, smarter, more reliable and able to handle more tasks, in spite of Siri was integrated into iPhones since the iPhone 4s, which was released in 2011.

Analysts expect that major updates about Siri, which can include anything from pulling additional data sets to the handling of more tasks.

“In our testing of Siri in the past two years, we found the product to lag significantly behind Google’s Home page, and marginally behind Alexa and Cortana,” Munster wrote in his note. He added that Siri was able to answer the questions correctly 75 percent of the time behind the 85 percent seen in Google Assistant. As he expects that the updates to Siri, in particular on the HomePod, Apple’s smart speaker designed to compete with the Google Home, and Amazon Echo line-up of products.

“Siri on HomePod is more limited in the number of domains, so adding support for things like navigation and e-mail would quickly improve the experience,” Munster added.

Experts also expect to hear Apple gives the new use cases for artificial intelligence, such as improved text predicition, music tagging, or face prediction, after the hiring of John Giannandrea in April as SVP of Artificial Intelligence. Giannandrea adopted was seen as a big coup for Apple, after he left Google, where he previously was the chief of the search and AI.

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The Hardware in the air

In the previous WWDC, Apple has taken the time to introduce new Mac computers, including last year when it renewed almost its entire line-up of Mac. This year is likely to be more muted when it comes to new hardware announcements, though.

Bloomberg reported that Apple is working on updates for the MacBook Pro, the 12-inch MacBook and a replacement for her MacBok Air computers, as well as a revision of the look of the Apple Watch. However, it is not expected that the new Apple Watch or the new MacBook’s will be ready in time for Monday.

But that hasn’t stopped analysts expected new hardware products, with White writing that he “would not be surprised if the Mac portfolio gets a kind of refresh” at the event.

Loup Ventures’ Munster believes that Apple will unveil a new, cheaper smart speaker with the Beats branding for $250.

Apple bought Beats, which makes headphones and has been integrated into the Apple Music, for $3 billion in 2014.

Fox News’ Jennifer Earl contributed to this story. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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