Munster: Siri coming to Beats, Apple to expand AR capabilities at WWDC

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With Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference less than a week away, analyst Gene Munster on Tuesday published his predictions for the event, prognosticating Siri integration with Beats hardware, expansions to Core ML and more.

Munster notes Apple's virtual assistant technology lags "measurably" behind Google Assistant and, to a lesser extent, Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana.

In December, the analyst found Siri was able to answer 75 percent of 800 questions posed in an unscientific test. That figure was up from 66 percent in April 2017, but still behind Google's technology. If Siri was more proficient in commerce and information domains, however, the December test would have resulted in a score of about 85 percent, on par with Google Assistant.

As such, Munster believes Apple will announce new Siri domain integrations at WWDC. The company has been reluctant to incorporate e-commerce tools into its AI data set, as Amazon and Google does, citing user privacy concerns. That could change, however, as Apple works to refine its differential privacy technology.

Munster also expects Siri to get a boost on HomePod. In February, the analyst found Apple's smart speaker integration at the bottom of the totem pole despite HomePod's high asking price. Apple will likely add domains to Siri's HomePod-specific domain buildout to bring the hardware in line with competing speakers from Amazon and Google.

In addition to more features, Munster believes Apple can grow its share of the smart speaker market by integrating Siri in a cheaper Beats-branded option. Though Beats has been an Apple subsidiary for nearly four years, the audio firm has yet to gain access to Siri tech. The closest Beats came to Siri was a 2014 ad that introduced Beats Pill mascots to the AI.

Apple continues to build out artificial intelligence assets for developers, as evidenced by the introduction of the Core ML framework at WWDC 2017. With Core ML, developers can tap into cutting edge machine learning features like real-time image recognition, face detection, emotion detection, machine translation, sentiment analysis, search ranking and more, without being experts in the field.

At WWDC 2018, Munster predicts an expansion on the 15 domains currently supported by Apple's machine learning framework.

ARKit, Apple's framework for augmented reality applications, should also get a few minor improvements, Munster said. Despite Apple's continued AR hype, and constant promotion of ARKit apps on the App Store, developers have delivered only a handful of compelling titles built on using the technology.

Moving on to digital health, a segment in which Apple has thrived over the past couple years thanks to Apple Watch, the analyst believes the next-generation "iOS 12" will provide device management tools designed to cut down on screen time and digital anxiety. Improvements to data sharing transparency, specifically notifications, are also expected.

Finally, Munster is looking for one hardware announcement at this year's developers conference, though what device the analyst expects to be announced was left unmentioned.

Last week, AppleInsider noted Apple's online store was showing severely constrained MacBook supply, suggesting a refresh is imminent. The company last year introduced revamped MacBook models alongside iMac, iMac Pro and HomePod.


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