Apple's Director of Machine Learning Resigns Due to Return to ...

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Generated: 5/9/2022
Apple's Director of Machine Learning Resigns Due to Return to ... Microsoft?

Apple may be finally starting to see some of the benefits of machine learning, and it appears that Apple’s in-house machine learning efforts are having a huge impact.

Earlier this year, I was one of many tech heads to go to a launch event held by Apple for a new video series called “Planet of the Apps”. The series, which launched on June 27 is Apple’s version of “This is Apple”, but for iOS apps. At the launch event, we saw the debut of the debut of Apple’s new app, called Home. Not only does Home serve as the new lock screen for the iPhone, but it also does things that weren’t possible before Home (or any other app on Apple products).

Home is the first app that uses machine learning. I’m not sure if Home is the first app in the App Store to use machine learning, but it’s the first to use machine learning in a way that other apps simply aren’t possible.

In Home, you can set a day that you want, then create a schedule of events to make sure that you don’t miss a meeting, a birthday or anything else that has a reminder. In this way, it’s much like Google Offers, but Home gets better. The scheduling is smart. For example, once I create a calendar for a certain day, any reminder I create is automatically pulled from my calendar and sent to me the next day to remind me. But Home is more than just a simple scheduling app. While you can set the day in advance when you want to be scheduled, you can also set events that will be automatically created for you when your next calendar event is ready. In this way, Home has changed how scheduling is done on your phone. No longer do you have to keep a small calendar of scheduled events and appointments. It’s all done automatically. For example, when I go to work, I set my day in advance. If I happen to stop by a coffee shop on the way to work, it’s automatically added to my Home calendar, ready for me to see when I finally make it to my desk.

Home lets you create a calendar event for any person that will be added to your calendar, so if you find someone interesting, you can add them to your calendar. You can even set things like, “if this person’s name is Steve, I want to see him email me on his birthday,” which will automatically be sent to you.

In Home, you can also set a time zone, which will create an event every day at that time zone (or close to). So, you can have a time zone in Florida, and see if anyone ever emails you in real time while you’re sleeping in California.

You can also set a location, and then see who’s in your location. This could become a fun activity to see who’s in your neighborhood or friends’ neighborhood. It could also let you know that there’s a group of people in your area that you don’t know (yet). Or, it could tell you who is in your building, so you don’t have to worry about where your parking is, and walk from elevator to your office.

Home makes machine learning more real world.

Machine learning is the ability to tell the machine what to do. The problem is that people always think machines will use machine learning to do something they want done. When Home was announced, most of the commentary was that Home would take over the lock screen of the iPhone. Instead, Home just took over scheduling. In the future, though, Home’s machine learning will become more powerful. Eventually, Home is going to be the perfect assistant to your iPhone, serving as not only a simple calendar, but more importantly, becoming your intelligent personal assistant.

Apple Watch and iMessage App

Home will allow you to have notifications on the home screen of your phone. Now, let’s be clear. I get that Apple is trying to do this now to take some heat off of iPhone 7’s screen notch (it’s also going to make Home stand out from the other home screens of apps that don’t have notifications yet). I also think Home is a great attempt to take some of the heat of iOS 10’s Notification Center. However, Home doesn’t do notifications well.

In the future, Home will be able to add things to your calendar with notifications. It will send you text messages, and even calls that are important to you. The next stage will be iMessage. Messages on Apple devices will eventually integrate machine learning. So, you won’t have to worry about what your friends think of a joke you told in a group on iMessage for the entire world to see.

What do you guys think? Tell us what you think about Home and Apple’s machine learning efforts.

My wife and I got a 1 year Apple service plan recently because I’m a contractor and could use the iPhone. We really didn’t want to have a monthly payment and I hate paying a data plan, but this is a good, cheaper way to have it all on one bill.

I’m very impressed, there are apps that do this already, however none of those have the scheduling prowess of Home. This makes Home super useful for me, my wife and any of our family or friends that do not have an iPhone. Thanks guys!!

I don’t know what home does but Apple’s “Siri on your Home Screen” app was pretty useful in letting me make a reservation for a sushi spot without opening Facebook or Twitter, for example. It doesn’t seem to be much more useful than the iPhone app though.

I agree with most of the sentiment. This is just a gimmic. I just wish that they would have made the home screen the lock screen. I wish they’d done this back for the 5S. But a home screen home screen and then just have an iPad or iPod with a notification screen was a bit more useful.

I think this is just a gimmick because, really, what else in iPhone 6S+ allows people to schedule anything? It should just be automatic. Having this allow you to automatically schedule events on a daily/weekly/monthly basis is cool but should be a bit more polished.

I have an Apple Watch, and I don’t see the benefit of this. It looks like Apple has integrated iMessage into the iPhone and Apple Watch. Notifications are not going to be great with Watch, and iMessage on Watch really doesn’t add much more.

Also, while a year is not a lot for a contract, it’s a bit short on the Apple Watch, too. At least for the first few months after availability, I think Apple Watch demand will outstrip Watch supply.

In all honesty, its kind of nice to have that kind of automated reminder functionality. I have 3 kids at home and my phone is never a consistent “home base” so I have to manually “wake up” myself so I know when to start “shopping for school supplies” or what have you, and it would be a real pain if even that didn’t get automated.

The other thing I’d like is it to remind me of special holidays, like your wife’s Birthday or Christmas day. Maybe it’s possible to get these type of events based on an iOS calendar, or maybe based on certain events occurring on my calendar, or just what my friends’ calendars have.

Home is my favorite app in 9.0.1, I never had to deal with any of the issues the iPhone had. I love it’s new capabilities and it never fails me once my alarm is set. I would love if Apple would make a version for the watch as well.

How is Home going to automatically set an app alarm and send a text (SMS) on my behalf?

I think Apple really wants to push forward in areas like this to make Apple more interesting and more compelling.

If Home ever learns that I told my wife, “Hey, go to the Apple store” while she wasn’t listening to Home, it isn’t going to do what I asked at that moment. It was programmed to learn a lot about me. But it doesn’t know who I told it to. It’s going to keep asking me all the time, until all my secrets are out!

I can’t wait until I have to make a new schedule so that everyone in my family knows when each of us needs to know, or if I am making time for myself, when I need a break (I like taking lunch), but if it is for the kids, when they need to know to get ready for something, and I won’t be coming home until a certain time. Not knowing when to start dinner for everyone.

This concept seems to be very much the same as Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, etc. – they all take on specific functions and not others. It’s really only useful for a few specific things as a personal assistant.

If Microsoft, Amazon, or Google can create a single system that is very intelligent for “all things” that all the various apps could share, then it would be incredible. Apple isn’t there yet.

Garett MacGowan

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