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You asked about CES 2018. We answered.

Brian X Chen, INYT Jan 15 2018, 0:55 IST

At the International CES show this week in Las Vegas, which is one of the year's biggest technology trade shows, we asked readers to set the agenda by asking questions about the tech that most interested them.

Here's an edited selection of the more than 150 questions that were asked, and our answers.

Why does Apple, the most valuable company in the world, boycott CES? - Peter Fischetti, Panama City Beach, Florida

Apple doesn't exhibit at trade shows in general. In 2008, Steve Jobs announced that Apple was pulling out of Macworld Expo, the Apple-centric trade show, where he had previously announced a number of important Apple products, including the original iPhone in 2007. Apple's reasoning was that the company had retail stores all over the world that could showcase Apple products. In addition, the company had the clout and budget to host keynotes - or marketing events to unveil products - independent of a giant trade show, where companies are competing for media attention. Many companies, like Amazon, Samsung Electronics and Google, have followed suit and introduced products at their own events.

Here's what's interesting: Over my last decade attending CES, Apple cast a long shadow over the conference despite not having an official presence. Many companies were making things that worked with the iPhone or iPad, like cases, speakers or apps. But this year, Apple doesn't seem very relevant here.

The show now revolves around Amazon and Google and their battle for domination over voice assistants. There are a good number of companies here showing smart home products that work with Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant but that skip out on Apple's HomeKit because of its stricter privacy requirements and extra certification fees. So the show seems to have moved on from one giant to two others.

What does it say about the state of tech companies and organizations that there are no female keynote speakers at CES, yet there are female robot strippers being showcased at the event? - Bianca, Texas

Yes, the pole-dancing strippers were a real thing at a strip club this week. While they weren't officially affiliated with CES, they were an effective gimmick to lure CES attendees into the club. Still, your point is valid: CES has a diversity problem. The majority of featured keynote speakers are men.

In some ways, that mirrors the tech industry. The overwhelming majority of tech executives in Silicon Valley are white men. Tech companies have acknowledged their diversity issues, but over the years there has been little progress.

What "left-field" finds did you stumble upon? - Paul Gervais, Boston

I saw some pretty goofy gadgets, like a piece of rolling luggage with an electric scooter built into it. Can you imagine riding your luggage through the crowd at the airport?

I also saw a robot sherpa - it was basically a big trunk for carrying heavy objects - that follows you around as you walk.

It had sensors to avoid colliding with you.

How long will it take for new large smart appliances like refrigerators and washing machines to begin to pop up in the average American home or apartment? - Hunter, Baltimore

It will probably be a very long time. Many of these smart appliances have premium price tags. A smart refrigerator with Alexa controls, for example, costs upward of $4,000. It's unclear why you would pay that much for a refrigerator when you can just put a cheap Echo Dot ($50) on your counter.

It's also important to note that smart appliances have been around for many years.

There are high-end ranges priced upward of $5,000 that include buttons you can press to tell the oven what you are cooking so it can set the temperature and time accordingly.

At the end of the day, these features are a novelty: If you're going to spend that much on a range, you're probably a pretty good cook and know what temperature and timing to use to cook a roast or casserole.

Smart home appliances need to be cheaper and have more useful applications before they reach the mainstream.

Until then, they are an impractical luxury.

Are mobile phones trending toward more user-friendly or less user-friendly this year? - Ross Beane, New York City

Less friendly.

If you look at the sheer number of features that Apple and Google keep adding to iOS and Android year after year, mobile operating systems are becoming increasingly complex. (As an iOS user, I find the Mail app's user interface confusing, and I find it perplexing that Apple hid the useful Airdrop feature in a menu that is difficult to find.)

In addition, now that Apple has nixed the physical home button on the iPhone X, the way we use phones is poised to change significantly in the coming year.

In both Android and iOS, we are increasingly relying on touch gestures that are not as intuitive as pressing a physical button.

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