Apple set to unveil Siri-powered speaker as California conference kicks off

Apple is expected to unveil new features for its Apple Watch as its Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off on Monday. The device would compete with Amazon.com's Echo speakers and Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google Home device. Initially released as a development kit, Apple says the external graphics enclosure will allow developers to "tune [their] apps for high performance external graphics".

Created to work with an Apple Music subscription for access to over 40 million songs, Apple claims that HomePod provides knowledge of personal music preferences and tastes and helps users discover new music.

Both Amazon Echo and Google Home respond to voice commands to play songs, look up stuff online, check the weather, set a reminder or control Internet-connected home appliances.

Some industry insiders, however, note 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. It's powered by Apple Music, Apple's subscription music service, and connects directly.

Schiller said the HomePod will be deeply integrated with the Apple Music streaming music service.

Apple unveiled its home speaker during WWDC 2017 on Monday. It starts shipping in the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia.

As Schiller explains, "Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes".

Similar to Google and Amazon smart speakers, the HomePod has an intelligent voice assistant baked in.

More than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year, according the research firm eMarketer.

Apple also previewed its upcoming iOS 11, which will include such advancements as Multi-Touch Drag And Drop to move files from one app to another.

The lack of a breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone. Its entry into digital-music sales with iTunes, and into the smartphone market with the iPhone, upended those industries and gave them mass appeal.

This isn't Apple's first attempt to enter the home audio market.

Analysts said Apple is playing to its strength in the music industry by focusing on sound quality and its catalog of songs.

But it's also possible that the HomePod could expose Siri as less capable than Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant and Microsoft's Cortana, Blaber said.

The Mail app will feature new messages on top, split the screen when composing a new message, and will take up 35% less space.

  • Arturo Norris