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Apple Highlights Siri, Software Updates at Developer Conference

by Chiara A Sottile /
Apple CEO Tim Cook leads the audience in a moment of silence in tribute to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shootings at an Apple event at the Worldwide Developer's Conference on June 13 in San Francisco.Andrew Burton / Getty Images

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Apple doubled down on Siri and software at its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco on Monday, as the company adjusts to a world in which it may sell fewer of its flagship iPhones.

CEO Tim Cook began Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference with a moment of silence "for the victims and the people who loved them" in the mass shooting that left 50 people dead at an Orlando nightclub.

"We celebrate our diversity,” said Cook, who is the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. “We know that it makes us stronger and moves everyone forward.”

Read More: Why China Will Likely Continue to Take a Bite Out of Apple

Fittingly, the announcements that followed were delivered by the one of the most diverse lineups in the company’s history.

The updates Apple introduced on Monday spanned its catalog of devices, and included the biggest release ever for iOS (software for iPhone and iPad) and a naming convention change for the desktop operating system (now called macOS instead of OS X).

When it launches this fall, the new Apple Watch software will feature an emergency call function that sends a user’s location information and medical ID with the press of a button, the company said. The feature will work internationally, and dial the country-specific emergency phone number based on a caller’s location.

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Starting with this latest update to iOS, Apple is also rolling out the use of “differential privacy” technology that the company says will allow it to collect valuable data on what customers are doing with its software while not collecting information that can be traced back to any one person.

As anticipated, Apple said that its popular talkative assistant Siri will soon be available on Mac, in addition to on mobile devices, and will be open to developers. Siri will also be able to suggest responses in the messaging application, such as a location when a user is asked, “Where are you?"

Read More: Apple Ends 13 Years of Continuous Quarterly Growth

Apple also unveiled a more expressive messaging application, equipped with “invisible ink” messages that are only revealed after the recipient swipes over them. Texters will also have the ability to “say it loud” or “say it gently” with bubble effects.

“All of this would be meaningless to us if it came at the expense of your privacy,” said Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi, referring to the new features.

Apple highlighted its security changes alongside updates that will conveniently bypass passwords and connect even more devices.

For example, Apple has come up with a way for Mac users to log on to its computers without a password: the Mac will authenticate a user when she is in close proximity to the computer and wearing an Apple Watch.

Read More: Apple Sees Slowing Growth for iPhone Sales

Apple is also diving deep into the smart home with a new “Home” app. In a demonstration of the Siri-enabled HomeKit — the company’s platform that allows smart devices to talk to one another — tapping “goodnight” prompted a house’s thermostat to adjust, the blinds to close, and the front door to lock.

And perhaps in an effort to assuage fears about security with the new features, Federighi reminded developers, “We make sure to use end-to-end encryption by default … Keeping your personal data under your control.”

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