Apple launches Homepod, takes aim at Amazon's Echo

The speaker would likely be tucked into Apple's "Other Products" category, which now includes devices like the Apple Watch, Apple TV and AirPods.

An Apple-designed speaker with high-end sound quality that fits perfectly into the Apple ecosystem is a familiar pitch.

Tapping Apple's Siri digital assistant, such a speaker is expected to serve as a butler as well as an outlet for listening to music. So we thought we'd make ourselves useful and tell you what you should pay attention to and what you could skip over to save time. Google followed with its Home speaker, featuring its plain-named Assistant, last year. Siri can be activated using the command "Hey, Siri". The smartwatch promises to learn about your routines to figure out what information to display. As a reminder, there's a huge woofer and seven tweeters inside, all meant to make audio sound as vivid as possible no matter where you are in a room. If you're into tablets, Apple has something for you.

Safari, Apple's web browser, is getting new features aimed at online annoyances. Most improvements will be under the hood, including an all-new file system, VR features and support for the new HEVC video standard.

On the Mac front, Apple showed off High Sierra, the next version of MacOS. HomePod is cast as a complement to Apple Music, a sensible marketing strategy considering that these bi-directional audio devices haven't yet really found a reason for being beyond demanding that stuff be brought to one's door. I'll be curious to see if audiophile types with discerning ears are as impressed as those of us who just know when something sounds good.

The trend-setting company also is putting new twists on existing products as it delves deeper into virtual reality and a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning. In one demo, Apple executive Craig Federighi pointed a camera at a table on stage and added a virtual coffee cup and a lamp on the real table. It came as a surprise that the Amazon and Apple collaboration was the only news talked about today at the conference, rather than any of these developments.

The company also announced updates to its entire MacBook line giving its laptops more powerful specifications in the form of the latest Intel chips. Apple's entry into the market could change that.

The 2017 iMacs pricing starts at $1,099 for the 21.5-inch display model and $1,299 for the 4K unit.

The company is also launching new models of both the iPad and the Mac computer.

While the iPhone was largely absent from the announcements at WWDC, Apple did give a sneak peek into the future of the device with the unveiling of a new version of iOS, which also powers its iPads.

The iMac Pro was to begin shipping in December with a starting price of $4,999 (approximately Rs 3,21,621).

Apple also showed a sneak peek into a new all-in-one desktop called the iMac Pro.

Security researchers consider the presence of these devices a potential privacy risk, though perhaps it's less likely than being fooled by a phishing message or revealing too much via social media. Apple will also have new tools for organizing photos and creating sharable videos.

  • Carolyn Briggs