New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Terry Joseph
June 6, 2017

"Just like how the iPod reinvented music in our pockets, HomePod will reinvent music in our homes", said Apple SVP for Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller.

The event began with an Apple video portraying what life might be like without an app store. Rolling out today in the USA, both the new features will hit all devices which have Alexa built-in.

The moves announced Monday escalate Apple's technological battle of wits with Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook.

Reuters reports that Apple is likely going to stick to its tested method of focusing on a limited amount of features and perfecting them instead of trying to offer as many features as possible.

"In typical Apple fashion, they've allowed for only a few use cases, but they do them very well", said Charles Jolley, chief executive of Ozlo, maker of an intelligent assistant app. Shipments of intelligent home speakers surged almost 600% year-over-year to 4.2 million units in the fourth quarter, with Amazon taking about 88% share and Google 10%, according to consultant Strategy Analytics.

The extensive range of updates are all due for release later this year.

The company rolled out new tools for developers to create augmented reality applications for iPhones and iPads.

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The device was previewed on stage Monday at WWDC, Apple's annual developer conference in San Jose.

Some of the most popular apps, such as Facebook, Instagram and Sanpchat, don't cost anything.

With consumers less interested in buying new tablets, Apple has increased its focus on designing tablets for professionals to do much of the same work that they usually perform on a laptop computer. This week, this included "Minecraft: Pocket" and a new version of "Goat Simulator", an oddball game that's exactly what its name sounds like.

The sci-fi vision of a connected home is quickly becoming a reality: both Amazon and Google have launched smart assistants, with an Apple offering based on Siri is rumoured to be on the way. It needs to be plugged in to a physical wall socket and it's able to do a litany of tasks if you ask it - through Siri, of course.

The HomePod marks a fightback against Amazon's Echo, the voice-controlled Wi-Fi speaker that has been a surprise hit and put rivals such as Apple and Google on the back foot.

Siri will be integrated into the US$349 speaker, and will make music recommendations that pair with the company's Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores, and control home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats.

But we did get a good sense of the HomePod speaker size, how it'll light up and if it'll be good enough to take on Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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