Apple unveils HomePod to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home

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Apple is trying to make augmented reality a reality with new tools for iPhones and iPads. Beats Electronics was also working on a Wi-Fi-equipped speaker when it was acquired by Apple in 2014, but Apple chose to kill the project before it was publicly announced.

Although Siri would likely be a centerpiece of a smart speaker from Apple, Moorhead said the device's design, colors and acoustics will also likely be focal points because the company has a long history of making elegantly designed products.

Siri's integration also turns the HomePod into a voice-controlled personal assistant.

One announcement generating a lot of buzz is Apple's new HomePod. There's a new voice for the digital assistant that's meant to sound more natural, along with a more visual interface that shows suggestions and follow-ups to your original query.

Apple vice president Phil Schiller said the company's Siri team had tuned the assistant into a "musicologist" that learns the tastes of listeners and gets songs from the internet cloud.

The HomePod is expected to go on sale in December at $349. That makes it three times more expensive than Google Home and about twice the price of the Amazon Echo. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year. And depending on the HomePod's traction, it'll be a way for Apple to see if the device will become another iPod Hi-Fi or the next big move for Apple in the home device space.

1 (and 2): Apple TV getting Amazon support, watchOS 4 announced.

Apple addressed the privacy issues surrounding smart speakers. "Both Google and Amazon are advertising heavily, getting people used to the devices". "It provides encrypted communications", Ask said.

For instance, Apple's large-size iPhones are now popular, after Apple initially resisted them despite strong sales for larger-display phones made by Samsung and other rivals.

Apple's is unveiling new features at its annual conference for software programmers on Monday.

The new Amazon Prime Video app will debut later this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said at WDDC.

Samsung doubled the number of wearable devices shipped compared with the previous year, but it's still at fourth overall, at less than 5 per cent, just ahead of Garmin. It will not block the ads themselves, though.

The new iPad Pro is displayed during the 2017 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference. It contains numerous same capabilities of those assistant-equipped speakers, but adds one more thing: high quality audio. On the music front, Airplay 2 friends add to a playlist and include other social features while also improving the speaker integration. So far, the service has limited payments to purchases of products and services from companies and other organizations.

A parade of executives followed Cook unto the stage and unveiled a series of updates to Apple's hardware, software and mobile applications, or apps, including iMac desktop computer, MacBook laptop machine, iPad, Apple Watch, iOS software operating system and App Store.

Ortutay reported from NY.

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