Apple announces the HomePod

With Siri most widely used on iPhone, Apple risked missing out on the daily, at-home tasks consumers increasingly use Echo or Home for - reminders, calendars, music.

"HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a attractive speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion free music and be a helpful assistant around your home".

Apple said Siri, which also competes with the Google Assistant helper, will now be able to create appointments on an iPhone after an appointment is booked on a Mac, for example, marking the first time that privacy-conscious Apple has let the assistant work across devices. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180 and Google sells its Home speaker for $130.

"I do think there's the perception that Siri's been left behind, and they've been left behind with the devices", says Recode Executive Editor Kara Swisher.

The device would be used to control internet-enabled products around home, as well as answer queries and provide news, weather and schedule updates.

The technology giant will reportedly use the opening of its annual developer conference, WWDC, to announce the device, which is expected to be powered by voice assistant Siri.

Apple has given Siri new male and female voices, described as more natural and expressive, and added abilities such as translating English phrases into Chinese, French, German, Italian or Spanish. However, contrary to prior reports from analysts, the Bloomberg report said Apple's home hub will not have a screen.

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

Apple's entry into the market could change this. Other countries will get HomePods next year.

While Apple radically redesigned the messaging experience in iOS 10, the next update will focus on improving on those core technologies and features.

New iMacs are getting brighter displays and graphics capabilities.

Apple says Amazon will be making an app for its video service for the Apple TV device this year, filling one of the major gaps on Apple's streaming TV device.

Safari, Apple's web browser, seeks to make users' online experience smoother and less annoying.

The next version of the Apple Watch operating system - watchOS 4 - includes a new watch face that puts the company's intelligent assistant Siri front and centre.

The tech firm also updated its Apple Pay system to enable users to directly pay other people using a text message as part of its iOS 11 upgrade. Daryanani said Apple may also announce an iPad Pro with a faster processor in an attempt to revive its long-slumping tablet sales.

  • Arturo Norris