New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

06 June, 2017, 06:22 | Author: Alicia Barber
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Apple's also expected to unveil a voice-activated, internet-connected speaker to rival Amazon's Echo and Google Home.

The HomePod will be priced at $349, more expensive than Amazon's $180 Echo or $50 Dot and Google's $129 Home.

The big question is whether or not people are going to be willing to spend this much for the HomePod, and what kind of support Apple will offer for third party apps, like Spotify. So, you can ask Siri to turn on the lights, close the shades, or activate a scene that you've pre-set in the Home app. HomePod can even control these devices when you're not home via the Home app, giving you the power to remotely control your devices from anywhere. Apple is poised to announce its own speaker at its annual conference for software programmers Monday.

By comparison, the HomePod costs $120 more than Amazon's (AMZN) latest touchscreen-sporting Echo Show, $220 more than Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google Home and $300 more than the no-frills Echo Dot. I'm sure well learn more about the device in the coming months, but it seems like Apple is downplaying this announcement.

"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

And Apple has some real advantages that Google and Amazon lack: a long track record of excellent hardware, a customer base that's accustomed to paying more, and over 500 retail stores worldwide where potential buyers will be able to see (and hear) the HomePod before buying. The Apple Pencil was also enhanced for inline drawing, and the new Instant Notes feature allows users to take notes from the lockscreen.

It can also be used via Siri for messages, news, sport or weather. Yes, you can do the same thing with an Amazon Echo or a Google Home, but remember: this is an Apple gadget. All information is recorded locally on the device and sent to Apple servers encrypted using an anonymously Siri identifier.

Rafael Nadal through to quarter-finals at French Open
Venus had made it to the third round at Grand Slams five previous times. "So it's quite huge for me". "I played well in Rome". New Zealand doubles player Michael Venus has won through to the quarter-finals of a tennis Grand Slam for the first time.

The speaker is powered by Apple's A8 processor, powerful enough to control a device like the HomePod and process the information needed for it to be smart. The manufacturing duties have apparently been handled by the same company that makes the iPhone 7's AirPods, with the devices being tested by Apple employees in secret. The shipping date later this year means the HomePod comes out a full two years after Amazon launched Echo.

Apple also unveiled new Macs, addressing complaints that Apple has let its Mac lineup languish in favour of its better-selling products, namely the iPhone.

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. After all, Alexa can be pretty ditzy, too, but when you literally don't have to lift a finger to get something done, it's a whole other level of delight.

As Schiller introduced the device, he acknowledged that there are several other smart home speakers available on the market.

Along with upgraded versions of iPad and Mac laptops, Apple provided look at an iMac Pro work station that had the computing built in behind the screen and was touted as the most powerful computer the company has ever made.

The company also rolled out tools for developers to create augmented reality applications for iPhones and iPads.


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