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ExtraBITS for 17 July 2017

In ExtraBITS this week, Andy Ihnatko ponders a world overly reliant on technology, the Apple Store introduces interactive HomeKit demos, and a report claims that Siri usage is declining.

Connected Condiments: When Will It Have Gone Too Far? -- Andy Ihnatko is letting off steam as only he can, with an extended analogy about how he was just trying to make a ham-and-cheese sandwich but got distracted by an Internet-related error with the mustard. It’s silly, of course, but his larger point is that we’ve created a world built on so many dependencies that it’s amazing that anything works at all. We’ve all been there; the question is how we get back.

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Apple Stores Introduce Interactive HomeKit Demos -- It’s difficult to convey the benefits of home automation to someone who has never experienced it. To address this challenge, Apple has begun rolling out an interactive HomeKit experience in 46 of its retail stores around the world. You’ll be able to use an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch to control virtual HomeKit accessories displayed on a screen. While not as impressive as the real thing, it should at least give you an idea of how HomeKit works and how you might integrate it into your house. Other Apple stores will feature a non-interactive HomeKit demo.

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Siri Usage and Engagement Declining -- A somewhat odd Verto Analytics report on virtual assistant use on mobile devices claims that while Siri remains the most popular virtual assistant in the United States, both usage and engagement are dropping. Siri’s user base reportedly declined by 15 percent to 41.4 million over the past year, and engagement (a metric that compares daily users to monthly users) has dropped by half during that period. Suggested reasons include Google rolling out voice support across all its apps and people starting to use mobile apps associated with home-based voice assistant devices, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Apple undoubtedly hopes that its HomePod smart speaker with Siri support will reverse this trend.

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