On Apple’s big WWDC day, why was new smart home tech MIA?

Siri, call Tim Cook…

Apple’s WWDC keynote is over but the annual developers conference is still in progress, and we’re hoping that maybe, possibly, hopefully, more new news will seep out, including a possible “surprise” on Wednesday. But it’s only Tuesday, so we’ll have to keep hoping.

Meanwhile, we’ve been assessing and analyzing the announcements so far, from the new features in iOS 12, to MacOS Mojave and AR kit, to the lack of announcements around any new hardware, and, conspicuously, the near silence on news related to Apple smarthome stuff, the one sector in tech where all the action seems to be these days. DT Home Editor Kim Wetzel waited patiently for Tim Cook and company to say that the HomePod and Siri were going to get a big boost… but there was almost nothing except for the new MacOS Home app.

What’s going on? Kim says Apple’s penchant for keeping everything inside Cupertino’s infamous Walled Garden might be one reason for the radio silence, and she has some ideas about what Apple needs to do to close the gap on Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. We’ve also got a full roundup of what was announcedand not announced – at WWDC.

How do you keep a dragon cool?

Qualcomm has recently been branching out from mobile chips for cell phones to chips that also work in low-powered laptops – the Snapdragon 845 for example. Now, the company is pushing harder into the laptop space with a new CPU, the Snapdragon 850, a chip that is designed specifically for laptops – and only laptops.

Qualcomm says that because the 850 isn’t for phones and therefore has more real estate on a laptop motherboard, it’s easier to cool, so they bumped the performance up about 30 percent over the 845. Nice. They say it’ll be better able to deal with 4K video and other heavy lifting, all while cutting power use by 20 percent over the 845. Looks like Moore’s Law isn’t dead after all. You can expect laptops with Snapdragon 850s inside to start appearing this fall.

Screens on tap

Here’s an idea whose time may have come: Why don’t laptop makers make the touchpad… a touch screen? Looks like Asus is giving it a go with the new ZenBook Pro 15, which will feature a 5.5-inch touch pad touch screen with HD resolution. So what can you do with it? Watch YouTube and procrastinate at work even more than usual? Of course, but the real special sauce could be tweaking the touch pad with app-specific shortcuts – something you can never have enough of in, say, Photoshop, or web building apps.

Sure, Apple sort of did this with the Touch Tar, but more than one person around here looked at the giant touchpad on the MacBook Pro and asked: Why not there? In fact, we encourage laptop makers to use the entire wrist rest area for second, third and fourth screens, so we can shortcut, alias and app-tap our way through the day. Jony Ive and the rest of you laptop designers out there, get on it.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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