Apple wants Siri to read your mind and take over your home

Terry Joseph
June 7, 2017

Apple once tried to create its own TV service for Apple TV, but the company announced on Monday it was adding once-rival Amazon's video service to the device.

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is an annual event at which the Cupertino-based company showcases its new technologies.

Apart from this, as a home assistant, HomePod can be used to post messages, gather updates on news, sports and weather, or control smart home devices by simply asking Siri to do the basic job of switching on the light, closing the shade and so on. Six microphones allow the speaker to hear audio commands from across the room, even when loud music is playing, and Apple has expanded Siri's vocabulary and intelligence to allow it to respond to a wide variety of music-related queries. Combined with Siri you'll be able to ask it to "play more from this band" or ask for more songs with the same guitarist and the like.

"It will reinvent home audio", boasted Apple CEO Tim Cook. The HomePod is expected to sell for $349 and be available in December in the USA, U.K., and Australia. The device will compete with Amazon's Alexa and Google Home, and is scheduled to be released later this year, the company said. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year.

Apple said the new ARkit would make use of the dual-lens camera on the iPhone 7 Plus, making the integration of virtual objects and the real world more realistic. Although that product came out after other smartwatches hit the market, it quickly outshone competitors, according to industry research firms.

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Siri, in contrast, is only available on Apple devices. The key to packing the performance into the unit is a new cooling system that Apple says is 80% more efficient than the current ones. This is Apple's take on Echo, but does it do anything better to warrant that hefty price jump? The company also says that it will be more sensitive to the context of a user's question or information. This is the product that will measure Apple's progress and whether its stance on privacy hinders its machine learning endeavours. In a keynote demo, Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, placed a digital cup, vase and lamp on a table and showed how the objects' shadows were able to interact with each other. "Today iMac gets a huge graphics performance increase, faster CPU performance, Thunderbolt 3 and a brighter Retina display with support for 1 billion colours".

"By truly enabling all modern iPhones to become augmented reality platforms, Apple will have the largest potential reach for AR development day one", said Mr Bajarin.

Safari, Apple's web browser, seeks to make users' online experience smoother and less annoying. All you have to do is hold your iPhone next to the HomePod and it'll be ready to start playing music in seconds. It will not actually block ads, though.

Apple is introducing a 10.5-inch iPad Pro in an attempt to revive interest in its once hot-selling line of tablets. It will cost $349 and will be available in two colors: white and space grey. For Apple, having one broadens the role that its software, services and gadgets play in people's lives. The features are part of the Mac software update this fall, to be called High Sierra.

Ortutay reported from NY.

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