New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Credit CC0 Public Domain
Credit CC0 Public Domain
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11 June, 2017

Like Amazon's Echo and the Google Home speakers, users interact with the new device via voice commands. If Apple were to release a Siri-centric speaker, it could tie the device to other services it offers like its subscription music streaming service, or its News app.

Apple says it's contextually aware, so you can ask tell Siri something like "Play something now" and then follow it up with "Who's singing".

Surely not. Tim came into proceedings with a knowing confidence stating that Apple had already re-invented portable music and now it was time to reinvent wireless music throughout the home.

Feeling the pressure from Amazon Echo and Google Home, Apple will release its own smart speaker - but not until the end of the year.

Overall control of the HomePod can be maintained from the Home app, and Apple also revealed users will be able to pair their phone with HomePod by holding it next to the speaker.

The HomePod speaker was unveiled at a conference for software programmers on Monday, and will go head-to-head-to-head with Amazon and Google's popular digital home assistants. The speaker is powered by an A8 chip - the same chip found in the iPhone 6 - and lets the device learn its position in a room and optimise itself to deliver an immersive music listening experience, according to Apple. It weighs 2.5kg and comes in two colour options- white and space grey. In an interview with the Journal, Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue boasted that Apple switched Siri to a machine-learning system, which improved the software's performance.

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At WWDC, Apple also showed off a new iPad and a new computer called iMac Pro.

The speaker is one device on a list of things that Apple could unveil. Daryanani said Apple may also announce an iPad Pro with a faster processor in an attempt to revive its long-slumping tablet sales.

As part of the announcement at the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple touted upgrades for the Siri personal assistant in the fall update to the IOS mobile operating system.

A new Siri interface on the Apple Watch will also blend users' calendar information with other useful details, like airline tickets they may have booked, the company said.

"Apple justified the price by positioning HomePod as a high-end speaker rather than a virtual assistant, which is smart", she said.

Sources close to Apple's engineering and artificial intelligence teams say that Siri will soon work with apps outside its current remit.


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