In ExtraBITS this week, we get a look at Apple’s and Amazon’s contrasting approaches to home automation, and Apple joins the Partnership on AI.
Apple Versus Amazon in the Smart Home Race — Stephen Nellis of Reuters has penned an article examining the difference in how Apple and Amazon approach home automation. Hardware manufacturers who want to sell HomeKit devices must include special chips and produce their accessories in Apple-approved factories. After that, manufacturers must send their devices to Apple for a lengthy approval process. By comparison, getting a device to work with Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant requires just a software review. Getting a “Works with Alexa” label requires hardware testing, but that can be done by a third-party lab and takes no more than 10 days. As a result, Alexa threatens to overwhelm HomeKit with the number of compatible devices, but Apple’s approach leads to easier setup, higher security, and better compatibility. Also, Apple HomeKit devices do not require an Internet connection, which improves both security and response times.
Apple Joins the Partnership on AI — Apple has officially joined a group called “Partnership on AI” as a founding member, alongside other major tech firms like Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft. Also joining the board of trustees are representatives of non-profit groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, MacArthur Foundation, OpenAI, Peterson Institute of International Economics, and UC Berkeley. The stated goals of the partnership are to support best practices for, advance understanding of, and create an open platform for discussion about artificial intelligence. Given Apple’s tendency toward secrecy, it will be interesting to see what role it will take in the group. Regardless, considering the promise and risks associated with artificial intelligence, it’s good to see tech giants and non-profits coming together in this way.