The 11 best new features in iOS 11

The speaker will sell for about $350 in December in the US, United Kingdom and Australia.

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

During the conference, Apple nodded to several up-and-coming technology trends, unveiling a new "smart" home speaker and device features touching on virtual reality, online privacy and a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning.

Apple has described this release as "a monumental step for iPhone, and a giant leap for iPad". Apple says more languages will be added in the coming months.

To be "smart", the latest product in Apple's portfolio, known as HomePod, comes with a A8 microprocessor chip, the same power engine in the company's flagship iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet computer. The company also launched a new configuration of the 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar that starts at a cheaper $1,299.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 file photo, a person stands near the Apple logo at the company's store in Grand Central Terminal, in NY. Apple executives including CEO Tim Cook, Craig Federighi and Phil Schiller took the stage.

Still, the Apple Watch hasn't been a smash hit, fueling worries that the company's ability to transfix customers had waned after the 2011 death of co-founder Steve Jobs.

Analysts said the smart home speaker market is ripe for Apple.

New indoor maps of areas like malls and airports indicated that Apple might be laying groundwork to display information over images of those places in the future.

Shared Up Next is a new Apple Music feature that makes it easier for users to share playlists with DJs at parties and events, or with other users in a crowded room. Developers will keep an eye out for hints about new capabilities in the next iPhone, such as so-called augmented reality, in which digital information is overlaid on real-world images. They're also adding new photo effects, such as long exposure.

Aimed at high-end design professionals rather than the home market, the iMac Pro is to begin shipping in December with a starting price of $4,999.

And the operating system for mobile devices is getting a major update with iOS 11. Apple has an update in the works to help. The key exists locally on the device, which stores the messages in an unencrypted format until they are transmitted. Apple will also have new tools for organizing photos and creating sharable videos. Before, transactions had been limited to products and services from businesses and institutions.

And Apple will have a new "do not disturb" mode for driving.

Apple's Siri assistant will be integrated into the $349 speaker, and can make music recommendations that pair with the company's Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control compatible home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats. The phone will block most notifications to reduce temptations behind the wheel.

  • Arturo Norris