Monday, 26 June, 2017

Apple debuts HomePod speaker to bring Siri into the living room

Carlton Santiago | 09 June, 2017, 02:01

"HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a lovely speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion-free music and be a helpful assistant around your home". HomePod, Apple Music and Siri deliver the best music experience in the home that streams ad-free directly to HomePod.

Siri will add inflection to her voice, to say phrases three different ways. BBC's Dave Lee writes in his review, "Off-camera demonstration of Apple's new HomePad speaker confirmed what the company promised on stage: it sounds terrific".

Blau suspected Apple only gave a glimpse at its vision for HomePod, noting its potential to be a command center for smart houses and to mesh with iPhones, iPads, online services and more. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180; Google's Home speaker goes for $130.

Apple needs to get SiriKit into the conversation and to make sure Google and Amazon don't lock down voice-assistant developers, which could definitely happen in the next six months.

The trend-setting company also is putting new twists on existing products as it delves deeper into virtual reality and a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning.

Apple lovers already tend to be "premium product buyers", and may not flinch at paying more for what they believe is a superior quality product, said Gartner analyst Brian Blau.

Kevin Lynch, VP of Technology at Apple, speaks near a projection of an Apple Watch during the company's annual world wide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S. June 5, 2017.

"If we are comparing this to Apple's past successes, it doesn't fit that model", said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. Most of the news focused on the coming updates for its various operating systems, but CEO Tim Cook also introduced some new hardware.

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's entry could change this, as it did for digital-music sales, with iTunes, or the smartphone market with the iPhone. Safari, Apple's web browser, will allow users to automatically block auto-play videos by detecting videos that shouldn't be playing when you open a webpage to read an article, for example.

All in all, it was a big day for Apple, with more big news expected tomorrow, on Day 2 of the worldwide developers conference. It's part of Apple's effort to entice professionals with tablets that can handle many tasks previously reserved for laptops. Apple also laid some groundwork for augmented reality, the projection of digital features onto real-world surroundings, by giving app developers tools for incorporating AR into their products.

Among the offerings: The ability to pay friends with Apple Pay.

On the software side, upgrades made to Apple's iOS mobile operating system seem to be the real showstoppers, with the release of iOS 11 (pictured above). According to recent news reports, Samsung has been granted design patents for a new standalone audio device at a time when the tech giant is looking to expand Bixby's applications.

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