Apple pushes Siri to the front at its annual developer conference

The HomePod is Apple's first new gadget in almost three years, following its announcement of the Apple Watch in September 2014. Amazon has heavily dominated the field with its home speaker called Echo, which uses the digital assistant Alexa.

John Knoll, of Industrial Light & Magic, speaks about virtual reality during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the USA market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home.

The new iMac Pro starts at $5,000 and will ship in December.

Amazon just unveiled a version of Echo with a camera, touch-screen display and video-calling capabilities. Improved navigation features can also suggest lanes when you're driving, so there's no more last minute lane switching in order to make your turn.

The speaker will also act as the flawless home hub, which will be accessible via the iPhone or iPad - now that HomeKit has support for the same.

Although it was first smartphone maker to come out with a digital assistant when Siri debuted in 2011, it hasn't had a stand-alone assistant.

"We really believe it is going to take your home music experience to the next level", Apple chief executive Tim Cook said as he unveiled it. It would be Apple's first new product since its smartwatch in 2015. The HomePod wireless smart speaker is obviously compatible with all Apple HomeKit devices and provides seamless access to Apple Music.

New York- Speculation over what Apple will do to compete in the home hub market is spinning up ahead of Apple's annual developers conference this week, where many analysts expect the company to confirm the project. Apple also claims HomePod and Siri can handle more advanced queries, like "Hey Siri, who's the drummer in this?"

The lack of a breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone and supported the theory that the company lost its knack for innovation when its co-founder Steve Jobs died of cancer in 2011. As for the technology, CNET reports Apple could discuss its latest in augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence and also update its Mac and iPad hardware as well as operating systems for all its products.

And the operating system for mobile devices is getting a major update with iOS 11.

With consumers less interested in buying new tablets, Apple has increased its focus on designing tablets for professionals to do much of the same work that they usually perform on a laptop computer.

In a nod to Amazon streaming fans, Apple is also bringing Amazon Prime to its Apple TV app.

  • Arturo Norris