You've thought long and hard about it, and you're finally ready to buy a smart speaker. They're all being heavily marketed for Black Friday sales, and you'd like to ask Siri, Alexa or the Google Assistant to play music, tell you the weather, turn off your TV or lights on command. But you're stuck: Which brand and model to buy? Amazon has five Echo speakers currently available, Google has six and Apple has two. Which one is right for you? And then there are the concerns about security and snooping.
After watching Apple's keynote at the Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday, you'd be forgiven for thinking you've seen some of these features before. Here are some of the features in iOS 10 and Mac that take inspiration from Google -- and others. With Apple's release of iOS 10, the Photos app will use machine learning and facial recognition to automatically group together photos of common faces or subjects without you needing to tag anything. The Memories feature organizes photos into categories like trips, events and can even make videos with music that matches the mood. Yet these were features that have already become commonplace with Google Photos when it launched in 2015.
Hey, Google, enough is enough already. Google was caught having contractors listening in to our conversations from its personal assistant, which sounds bad until you realize Google wasn't alone in this. Apple and Facebook were doing the same thing. And this week, Microsoft got stung by Vice's Motherboard, and now admits it, too, listens. The companies, which also include Amazon, have said they do this on a limited basis to learn and make their assistants better.
Looks like Apple and Google are getting closer as 2020 draws to a close. After announcing that Apple Music will be available on Google's smart speakers and displays earlier this month, the two companies are playing nice once more. The Apple TV app will be available on Chromecasts with Google TV beginning early next year, with more Android TV OS devices to follow. This integration is beneficial to both companies. Google gets to claim that the Chromecast is now "one of the only streaming devices with all the major video subscriptions," as it said in its announcement.
If you want to use certain Google features, you'll get a notification urging you to turn the feature on. Unlike Facebook, Google and Amazon, Apple proudly proclaims that it "doesn't gather your personal information to sell to advertisers or other organizations." The company uses its alternative approach to privacy as a marketing tool, telling consumers that e-mails, direct messages and internet clicks aren't monitored by Apple. However, what it has built is a system that's been exploited by others for tracking. In speeches, Apple CEO Tim Cook decries privacy abuses by Silicon Valley rivals but hasn't changed its systems to stop them in their tracks.