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  1. A diversity report from Apple shows its employee base is similar to Google, Facebook, and Twitter, with men comprising about 70 percent of their work forces. Apple CEO Tim Cook, holding a Mac Pro computer alongside employees in Austin, Texas, says he's "not satisfied" with employment diversity at the company. Apple's just about as white and as male as the other major tech companies in Silicon Valley, the company disclosed Tuesday in a diversity report. Of Apple's 98,000 employees around the globe, including those in non-technical positions and those working at Apple Stores, 70 percent are male, the company said. Only 28 percent of Apple's global leadership team is female, and when it comes to tech positions, only 20 percent of Apple's worldwide workers are female. Tech positions mostly refer to engineers while non-tech jobs refer to marketing and public relations, human resources, sales, and other roles not requiring traditional computer science skills or programming chops. "As CEO, I'm not satisfied with the numbers on this page," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "They're not new to us, and we've been working hard for quite some time to improve them. We are making progress, and we're committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products."Apple didn't break down race globally but said 55 percent of all US employees are white. The second highest race/ethnicity for overall employees in the US is Asian at 15 percent. The percentage of white employees is similar for both tech and non-tech positions in the US but jumps to 64 percent for Apple's leadership team. Cook has tried to inject more diversity in Apple's management during his time as CEO. He promoted Eddy Cue, a Cuban, to his role as senior vice president of Internet software and services in October 2012. Cook also named Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry CEO, as Apple's head of online and in-store retail. In addition, he appointed Susan Wagner, a director at BlackRock, to Apple's board in place of long-running director Bill Campbell. Apple declined to provide historical diversity information for comparison. Apple's senior management team includes only one woman, Angela Ahrendts. Still, Ahrendts is the only woman on Cook's executive leadership team, and Wagner and Grameen America CEO Andrea Jung are the only women on the eight-member board. All other directors, as well as executive team members, are white men. Apple's disclosure Tuesday follows similar reports from other tech heavyweights including Google,Facebook, and Twitter. At all four of the companies, about 7 out of 10 employees are male. Tech companies are increasingly being pressured to add more females and people of color to their oftentimes mainly white male staffs. Apple has been under fire for having little diversity on its board, and Twitter also faced criticism for having no female board members right before it went public late last year. The companies have pledged funding and education support to get women and minorities interested in technology. Apple, for instance, has pledged $100 million to President Barack Obama's ConnectED initiative to bring cutting-edge technologies to economically disadvantaged schools. The majority of Apple employees are men. Many tech executives have publicly pushed for more diversity. Perhaps the most vocal has been Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook. She has called for better education for women and minorities and has said the lack of diversity in the industry is "pretty depressing. However, Facebook's current diversity levels are just as bad as those at the other companies in Silicon Valley -- something Sandberg hopes to change. "At the broadest level, we are not going to fix the numbers for under-representation in technology or any industry until we fix our education system and until we fix the stereotypes about women and minorities in math and science," Sandberg told USA Today for an article published Tuesday. By law, tech companies are required to file diversity statistics with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Only recently, as pressure mounts on Silicon Valley to do more, have tech companies started to highlight the figures in public. While more women have been hired at tech firms in the past few years, their roles are not usually at the executive level. A study by CNN Money last year showed that women in tech dominated the "Administrative" category (which combined clerical workers, as well as skilled and unskilled laborers) but were significantly less represented as officers or managers. Comparatively, according to the latest US Census data, non-Hispanic whites account for 63 percent of the total population, Hispanic or Latino people make up 17 percent, black or African-American people account for 13 percent, and Asians make up 5 percent. Updated at 11:45 a.m. PT with additional background information and Apple declining to provide more information. http://www.cnet.com/news/apples-work-force-is-mostly-white-and-male-too/
  2. Apple continues to figure out more and more ways to push its digital voice assistant on its current customer base. When Siri was introduced for the iPhone 4S in 2011 (the “S†stood for “Siri,†then), “she†(only female) was considered to be a fun experiment for the company. At the same time, users that played around with Siri found her to be underwhelming and unable to process the most basic tasks. When Google Now arrived on Android, most tech analysts decided that Google Now’s abilities were far greater than Siri’s. What most tech analysts didn’t tell you then (and most won’t now) is that Google Now’s “personality†lacks when lined up against Siri. For all the amazing information you get, you get a “subordinate†with Google Now, not an assistant that you can see as your equal. Siri is more of an “assistantâ€; Google Now, on the other hand, is a subordinate: it does what you ask, but has no jokes, stories, or funny expressions. In some sense, Google Now is underwhelming when stacked up against Apple’s Siri. Well, Apple hasn’t given up on its voice command – as the company continues to expand Siri’s presence across its entire iOS experience. First, Siri arrived on the iPhone, followed by the iPad. Now, if a new patent is correct, Apple looks to bring Siri (now with both male and female voices) to the Mac this Fall. The US Patent titled Intelligent Digital Assistant in a Desktop Environment, is designed to bring Siri to Apple’s laptop PC experience, seeing that Siri is already available on its mobile devices. Of particular note is Apple’s expectation that Siri will enhance or highlight MacBook capabilities above both the iPhone and iPad: “Most desktop, laptop, and tablet computer operating systems support user interface interactions across multiple windows and/or applications (e.g., copy and paste operations, drag and drop operations, etc.), and parallel processing of multiple tasks. Most desktop, laptop, and tablet computers…support more complex and sophisticated interactions and functionalities than many small mobile devices. The integration of an at least partially voice-controlled intelligent digital assistant into a desktop, laptop, and/or tablet computer environment provides additional capabilities to the digital assistant, and enhances the usability and capabilities of the desktop, laptop, and/or tablet computer.†While it’s always the case that Apple could file this patent and never bring it to light, we have a feeling that Apple wouldn’t do that with its important digital voice assistant, considering that Siri is already such a vital part of iOS. We don’t see the company creating an iOS/OS X hybrid device or operating system, but we do see Apple expanding Siri across all of its mobile devices – and expanding Siri’s capabilities over time. Apple expanded Siri’s capabilities in iOS 7, allowing her to not only set alarms and reminders, but to even turn on/off Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, play music, read text message, show missed calls, set a timer, show tweets from Twitter, update your Twitter status, find meeting notes, play your voicemail messages, activate games, launch photos, make reservations, provide up-to-date weather information, convert currency, Google a search term, FaceTime a contact, and so much more. Also, Apple will unveil the iPhone 6 on September 9th, sources say. We’ve heard that iWatch is on the way, and will continue to wait for more evidence.