Ap­ple puts women up­front

At firm’s de­vel­op­ers con­fab, fe­male ex­ecs com­mand cen­ter stage for key pre­sen­ta­tions.

Los Angeles Times - - TECHNOLOGY - By Tracey Lien and Paresh Dave tracey.lien@la­times.com Twit­ter: @traceylien paresh.dave@la­times.com Twit­ter: @peard33 Lien re­ported from San Fran­cisco and Dave from Los An­ge­les.

SAN FRAN­CISCO — Ap­ple Mu­sic, new op­er­at­ing sys­tems and a smarter Siri were front and cen­ter at Ap­ple Inc.’s World­wide De­vel­op­ers Con­fer­ence, but it wasn’t a new prod­uct that got peo­ple talk­ing — it was women.

Dur­ing its key­note pre­sen­ta­tion Mon­day, Jen­nifer Bai­ley, Ap­ple’s vice pres­i­dent of In­ter­net ser­vices, and Su­san Prescott, vice pres­i­dent of prod­uct mar­ket­ing, took to the stage to an­nounce new de­vel­op­ments with Ap­ple Pay and a news read­ing app. It was the first time Ap­ple has had fe­male ex­ec­u­tives on stage at any of its ma­jor events since at least the launch of the first iPhone in 2007.

In re­cent years, Ap­ple has been crit­i­cized for parad­ing out only top male ex­ec­u­tives at its iPhone, iPad, Ap­ple Watch and de­vel­op­ers events, par­tic­u­larly as Sil­i­con Val­ley as a whole dealt with gen­der dis­par­ity and dis­crim­i­na­tion is­sues.

Mem­bers of the tech com­mu­nity de­scribed the move as a huge devel­op­ment for a com­pany as high-pro­file as Ap­ple, which has only had three women on stage at its news con­fer­ences since 2007 (two of whom were third-party de­vel­op­ers and one who was su­per­model Christy Turling­ton).

“It’s very sig­nif­i­cant be­cause you have a very wellinten­tioned and pur­pose­ful ef­fort on the part of a tech gi­ant to raise the pro­file of their fe­male ex­ec­u­tives at their pre­mier public event,” said Jonathan Sposato, an an­gel in­vestor, se­rial en­tre­pre­neur and chief ex­ec­u­tive of photo edit­ing ser­vice PicMon­key.com. “They’re try­ing to do the right thing.”

Ap­ple re­leased data last year that re­vealed women ac­count for only 30% of its 98,000 em­ploy­ees. Of its en­gi­neers, women make up only 20%.

And at its last seven news con­fer­ences, nearly ev­ery speaker on stage was a white man. Against this back­drop, Mon­day’s news con­fer­ence was no­tice­ably dif­fer­ent.

Chang­ing the ra­tio of women and mi­nor­ity groups in the com­pany and across tech could take years, Spo- sato said, but sim­ply hav­ing a more in­clu­sive news con­fer­ence is a way for com­pa­nies to send an im­por­tant mes­sage about their in­tent.

“It may feel like a to­ken, su­per­fi­cial change,” Sposato said. “But I’d ar­gue that those to­ken changes are a nec­es­sary com­po­nent of ad­vanc­ing the dis­cus­sion and mod­el­ing the right be­hav­ior for the long term.”

Carolyn Leighton, the founder and chair­woman of Women in Tech­nol­ogy In­ter­na­tional, said Ap­ple’s in­clu­sion of Bai­ley and Prescott also makes ex­cel­lent busi­ness sense be­cause it shows the com­pany is ac­knowl­edg­ing women as part of its au­di­ence.

“It’s a win all the way around,” Leighton said. “It’s a win for Ap­ple, it’s a win for the women in those roles, and ev­ery time a young girl sees a woman in an im­por­tant role, she sees a pos­si­bil­ity of her­self in that role. That’s so pow­er­ful.”

Sit­ting in the shadow of so­cial change — how­ever small — Ap­ple’s other an­nounce­ments seemed par for the course, Sposato said.

The big­gest prod­uct an­nounce­ment was the un­veil­ing of Ap­ple Mu­sic, the com­pany’s long-an­tic­i­pated ra­dio and mu­sic stream­ing ser­vice.

The app will launch June 30 and cost $9.99 a month af­ter a three-month free membership.

Ap­ple also un­veiled a smarter Siri per­sonal as­sis­tant. With iOS 9, com­ing this fall, Siri will be able to search through more apps than ever and of­fer users in­for­ma­tion based on what it thinks they might want to know.

That in­cludes au­to­mat­i­cally adding event in­vi­ta­tions to the Cal­en­dar app, telling users who might be call­ing based on an un­known num­ber that matches one in an email, and launch­ing the Mu­sic app when some­one plugs in head­phones in the morn­ing be­cause that has be­come a rou­tine.

“We think th­ese kind of in­tel­li­gence fea­tures make a huge dif­fer­ence in iOS 9,” Craig Fed­erighi, Ap­ple’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing, told an au­di­ence of me­dia and soft­ware de­vel­op­ers at the Moscone Cen­ter in San Fran­cisco.

Google Now, part of Google’s mo­bile app, has sim­i­lar “in­tel­li­gence.” With­out nam­ing Google, Fed­erighi said Ap­ple’s ver­sion keeps users anony­mous.

Ap­ple might show free­way traf­fic data based on a user’s lo­ca­tion, but it doesn’t as­so­ciate that lo­ca­tion with a per­son’s Ap­ple ID, for ex­am­ple.

Last week, Ap­ple Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Tim Cook called out com­peti­tors that were “gob­bling up” data about peo­ple and try­ing to make money by min­ing that in­for­ma­tion, in a clear ref­er­ence to Google. For its part, Google has been try­ing to bet­ter clar­ify its pri­vacy poli­cies on­line.

Ap­ple re­it­er­ated its pri­vacy mes­sage Mon­day when it re­vealed a new app called News, which will in­clude ar­ti­cles from ESPN, Wired and other pub­li­ca­tions. In­for­ma­tion about what some­one reads will be kept pri­vate and won’t be shared with other com­pa­nies, Fed­erighi said.

For the first time, iOS 9 will in­clude a Maps app that has public tran­sit di­rec­tions. It will be limited to se­lect cities in the U.S. and China.

On tablets, iOS 9 in­tro­duces mul­ti­task­ing to the iPad Air 2 so that users can in­ter­act with mul­ti­ple apps at once; swip­ing through emails with one hand and edit­ing a doc­u­ment with the other are among the new fea­tures. Or users can watch a bas­ket­ball game in a mini

win­dow while an­swer­ing emails in a big­ger one.

Most im­por­tant, Ap­ple plans to re­duce the file size of the new op­er­at­ing sys­tem so that users won’t be scram­bling to delete pho­tos and videos to make room for it.

Ap­ple showed off only mi­nor up­dates to its op­er­at­ing sys­tem for desk­tops and lap­tops. The new ver­sion of OS X is called El Cap­i­tan, re­plac­ing OS X Yosemite. Be­gin­ning this fall, iMac and Mac­Book users will be able to up­grade to El Cap­i­tan for free.

It brings the abil­ity to search through com­puter files for more con­ver­sa­tional queries, like “Mail I ig­nored from Phil” and “Doc­u­ments I worked on last June.”

Ap­ple made a few an­nounce­ments about the Ap­ple Watch, say­ing that apps should be get­ting quicker be­cause they’ll soon be able to run di­rectly off the watch’s in­ter­nal sys­tem in­stead of the iPhone to which it’s con­nected.

Justin Sul­li­van Getty Images

JEN­NIFER BAI­LEY, Ap­ple vice pres­i­dent of In­ter­net ser­vices, speaks Mon­day about Ap­ple Pay dur­ing the com­pany’s World­wide De­vel­op­ers Con­fer­ence in San Fran­cisco.

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