New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Guillermo Lane
June 6, 2017

But while Amazon and Google have stressed the daily practicalities of the artificial intelligence assistants that run Echo and Home, Apple framed HomePod more as a music-listening platform, with practicalities like reminders and calendar nearly an after thought.

Siri's name recognition could play a role in HomePod adoption. The US, the United Kingdom and Australia go first in December.

Since the launch of Amazon's Echo past year and Google Home in March, both of which have been popular with consumers, Apple had been widely expected to enter the market.

Apple is also bringing the ability to send money to friends or other people through its payment service, Apple Pay.

Improvements to the AirPlay feature for sharing audio from iOS devices, which one-ups Google's invasion of home audio speakers through the Chromecast Audio dongle. The manufacturing duties have apparently been handled by the same company that makes the iPhone 7's AirPods, with the devices being tested by Apple employees in secret. The protection is similar to what Google Home and Amazon's Echo speakers already offer.

The Cupertino company described the 7in device, which comes in white and "space grey", as a "breakthrough home speaker" created to "rock the house".

More recently, reports surfaced indicating that Apple's Siri speaker will boast virtual surround sound.

Apple just revealed what it's been up to in software for the past year. and it's remarkably Google-y.

"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

In the same way that you use a wake word to ask, say, Alexa for information, the HomePod will respond to "Hey, Siri" to provide information such as news, weather, sports results and traffic.

Apple says its Safari browser will try to guard your privacy by identifying and blocking data files that track you as you move from website to website. Siri is in third place behind Google Home and Amazon's Alexa when it come to offering intuitive, natural digital assistant.

The Verge runs down all the other big announcements from today's keynote, and those include a new iPad Pro model with a 10.5-inch screen, the new iOS 11 with improved camera and Apple Maps software, upgrades to Siri, and a powerful new iMac Pro on steroids that can support up to 18 core processors and is priced at $5,000.

The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released past year, were the first entrants in a promising market.

Apple also unveiled new Macs, addressing complaints that Apple has let its Mac lineup languish in favor of its better-selling products, namely the iPhone.

However, people in the know have told Reuters Apple won't go in full charge trying to make everything voice-powered like Amazon, but will instead focus on perfecting a few new features that work well, test them, then roll out more. The lack of Amazon's streaming service was seen as a hole in the Apple TV's lineup.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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