Apple Joins Smart-Speaker Race With Music-Focused 'HomePod'

Apple’s Cook Says Trump ‘Decided Wrong’ on Paris Accord

Thousands of developers and reporters showed up at the San Jose Convention Center on Monday as Apple kicked off its annual worldwide developer's conference, known as WWDC.

The $350 HomePod is billed as a combination of a smart speaker, like the Echo, and a wifi home speaker system, like Sonos.

Virtual reality has been described as the next big thing for decades.

Apple will begin shipping the HomePod to the United States, Britain and Australia in December.

"I think it's a very Apple-esque product in that it seeks to stake out the high end of a market with its technology, price and positioning", said analyst Paul Erickson from IHS Markit.

The HomePod is controlled using Siri, the company's voice-activated personal assistant, which has, according to Apple, been trained to be better at answering questions about music such as "Hey Siri, who's the drummer in this?"

Because the HomePod boasts Siri as its smart virtual assistant, it can talk about a range of topics, from sports to news to movies and more. And like those products, the speaker is a gateway to other Apple products, and a showcase for Apple's voice assistant, Siri.

With an upcoming software update for iPhones and iPads, Siri will learn your habits based on what articles you might be reading, for instance. Some Apple fans also paid more than double the retail price on eBay for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus a few seasons ago rather than wait a few weeks for them to be back in stock in stores.

Some industry insiders, however, note that Apple will be under more pressure to improve the computing smarts of its Siri software in the face of offerings from rivals Google and Amazon. For starters, it houses an A8 chip under it that gives it sheer computing power. Or make that new voices, with a male version of Siri is getting a refresh, too. Get the scoop and make up your own mind here. Another Safari feature will stop video from automatically playing on websites.

"We want to reinvent home music", Apple CEO Tim Cook said onstage at WWDC. The price point is considerably higher than the Amazon Echo ($180) and the Google Home ($129). Even then, Apple says it won't know who you are - it'll just get an anonymous ID to help process a response.

New indoor maps of areas such as malls and airports indicated that Apple might be laying groundwork to display information over images of those places in the future. Apple SVP Craig Federighi said the company has spent a year "perfecting it" and adding "intelligent tracking prevention" to lessen ad trackers. "This is a new way that we are going to interact with these devices". "The fact that Apple is claiming to marry really great and smart audio with a smart assistant and cloud music service makes this device unique in the market". But so far, interest has been strongest among gamers, developers and hardware makers rather than everyday users. Apple's entry into the market could change that.

Along with upgraded versions of iPad and Mac laptops, Apple unveiled an iMac Pro work station that had the computing built in behind the screen and was touted as the most powerful computer the company has ever made.

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