Apple unveils 'HomePod' speaker, first new product in years

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

Siri was a big focus at the conference.

For one, there's the just-announced iMac Pro, which will be available with AMD's new Radeon Vega graphics - and up to a ridiculous new 18-core CPU.

This comes as competition increases, with devices such as Google's Chromebook and Microsoft's Surface eating into Apple's tablet market share.

Apple's Siri assistant will be integrated into the $349 speaker, and can make music recommendations that pair with the company's Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control compatible home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats. To date, Apple has paid out more than US$70bil to app developers, including US$10bil since January. The 17-centimetre speaker is priced at $USD 349, but there is now no Australian pricing available. Apple said the same chip used in the iPhone will power the speaker. It will adjust the audio accordingly to create sound that suits any space. By saying, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music become the flawless musicologist, learning preferences from hundreds of genres and moods, across tens of thousands of playlists, and these music tastes are shared across devices. But the HomePod's real objective isn't just music:. These include the obvious things like HomeKit device control and general knowledge inquiries, as well as fresh Siri domains like News.

There were rumours that Apple's smart speaker could be more like the Amazon Echo Look and incorporate video calls but the HomePod doesn't have a camera or screen.

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The younger siblings of the Apple hardware world, the Apple TV and Apple Watch are also due for some software updates.

It can easily be argued that the market is saturated with speakers pushing themselves as great voice-activated assistants.

In early May Patently Apple posted the first report in the Apple community about Inventec having landed the first order for Apple's Home Device for Siri.

Chief executive Tim Cook, referencing the company's iTunes service and iPod, said: "Just like portable music, we would like to reinvent home music".

Apple's John Ternus speaks during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, June 5, 2017.

Siri now has better translation features, improved speech, as well as the ability to learn from user behaviour.



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