New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

It also keeps with Steve Jobs' longstanding use of music as a means for launching new products and services.Come for the nice speakers, stay for the home assistant.

Given Apple's recent expansion into HomeKit and the success of competing models including the Amazon Echo and Google Home, it makes ideal sense for Apple to release the Siri Speaker into the market.

It's Apple's first new device since the company released the Apple Watch in April 2015.

Taking direct aim at services like those provided by PayPal Holdings Inc, Apple also debuted peer-to-peer payments for Apple Pay in which users will be able to send money through the Messages app on iPhones. Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for development virtual-reality "experiences." It's not clear whether Apple will turn a profit on the device when it officially hits the market later this year.

Homepod also has a Musicologist feature which works with Apple Music so you can stream your favourite tunes and if you aren't sure what you're listening to you, Siri is an utterance away from helping you. Apple plans to ship it in December-first to customers in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.

One of the key aspects that Apple pushed during its presentation was the speaker's spatial awareness. If you've used Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, or Siri, you know how you construct your question or command has a bearing on the quality of the response. Spending on smart home related hardware, services and installation fees will reach US$155 billion by 2022, up from nearly US$90 billion this year, with devices accounting for about half of that, the consulting firm also estimates. Both speakers can respond to voice requests for the news, weather and tasks such as turning on the lights.

More than 35 million people in the United States are predicted to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, according to research firm eMarketer.

Amazon just unveiled a version of Echo with a camera, touch-screen display and video-calling capabilities. Apple is saving some insights into HomePod for later this year when it is expected to unveil a tenth-anniversary edition of the iPhone. But it's suffered from an early release that saw it unable to do numerous things the Echo could do, such as shop or allow third-party integrations. Augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence, smart speakers, digital assistants, convolutional neural networks, machine learning and computer vision were all mentioned in some way, shape or form during the address.

Apple Music is also going to be more closely integrated with the watch, with automatic syncing for playlists.

Interestingly, Apple also announced AirPlay 2 earlier today, which lets you pair multiple speakers and play music in multiple rooms.

But Apple should embrace more mass-market prices in new product categories.

The lack of a breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone and supported the theory that the company lost its knack for innovation when its co-founder Steve Jobs died of cancer in 2011.

WWDC is Apple's annual pitch to software engineers to continue building programs for the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch.

Apple also announced a slew of updates to the Mac lineup, which has been overdue for an update. Software updates are also expected for Apple's smartwatch and TV box for streaming online video.

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