Apple expected to launch smart speaker

The new model will begin shipping on Monday.

The next version of iOS, which powers the iPhone and iPad, as well as desktop software macOS and the Apple Watch's watchOS were also updated at the firm's annual developer conference, WWDC.

HomePod is the first major product category under Tim Cook's tenure since the Apple Watch.

The HomePod, which will be released in white and space grey color variants, will cost you $349, which is significantly higher than its rival speakers such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and others, which cost around $250.

Apple also made a substantial leap in terms of augmented reality, a field that many have criticized it for being behind in.

Schiller had much less to say about HomePod's broader Siri smarts, although the product page on Apple's website hints that it can perform numerous smart home tasks that an Amazon Echo or Google Home can do. Apple's new device is called HomePod, and it marries Apple's Siri digital assistant to a home speaker. And depending on the HomePod's traction, it'll be a way for Apple to see if the device will become another iPod Hi-Fi or the next big move for Apple in the home device space.

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. Like a brutish house guest that's always breaking or messing up your stuff, Siri might be too stupid to let inside just yet.

Apple says its looking to "reinvent" the way we listen to music in the home.

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

Voice assistant: Siri will speak (a little) more naturally in female and male voices and use some sort of machine learning to suggest apps that you may want to use. It will be priced at $349 in the USA, with local pricing announced later in the year.

But Apple is late to the game on VR.

With a new watch face, Apple Watch promises to learn about your routines to figure out what information to display on the watch face.

Apple is officially jumping into the home speaker market. Shipments of intelligent home speakers surged almost 600 per cent year-over-year to 4.2 million units in the fourth quarter, with Amazon taking about 88 per cent share and Google 10 percent, according to consultant Strategy Analytics. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smartphones, he said. Siri can serve as a musicologist for music lovers as it can quick provide answers to questions like "Who is singing this song?" and "Who is playing the drums in this song?"

Apple also touts multiple security layers, including anonymous ID and encryption.

Safari, Apple's web browser, seeks to make users' online experience smoother and less annoying. It will not actually block ads, though.

Apple is introducing an iPad Pro in a new size in an attempt to revive interest in its once hot-selling line of tablets.

Apple, in contrast, is betting that the "smart" part of the speaker doesn't matter that much.

Taking direct aim at services like PayPal, Apple debuted peer-to-peer payments for Apple Pay in which users will be able to send money through the Messages app on iPhones.

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  • Zachary Reyes