November 19 2017

Apple kicks off event with virtual reality, browser privacy

November 19 2017, 06:47 | Geraldine Moore

New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference


Yesterday, at Apple's developer conference, WWDC, the tech giant announced a set of improvements to Siri in iOS 11.

Apple also released a software kit so developers could infuse augmented reality into applications for iPhones or iPads.

This is the iPhone's 10 year anniversary. (Many reviewers have suggested that the current incarnation of Apple's assistant already trails competitors in key respects.) "This is the start of the AI wars", he said.

HomePod will take on Amazon Echo and Google Home, which have momentum in the arena of voice-controlled speakers capable of controlling smart appliances, fetching content from the internet and more.

"Apple is a company that deeply cares about music and wants to deliver an audio experience in the home", Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg's Emily Chang. Part of that reality is due to Apple's privacy pitch.

This is something which it has been criticised for, especially following the San Bernadino shooting.

Following in Google's footsteps, Siri will also be able to translate and speak phrases from six languages, with more coming later, Apple said.

"There's a lot of things you can do with it", he added. The speaker features "spatial awareness", which allows it to automatically tune the sound to the space that the speaker is in.

More than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year, according the research firm eMarketer.

Samsung doubled the number of wearable devices shipped compared with the previous year, but it's still at fourth overall, at less than 5 per cent, just ahead of Garmin.

The HomePod might have strong musical talents - particularly as you can combine them with extra HomePods and other speakers using AirPlay 2 - but Google and Amazon both hold the upper hand when it comes to properly tailored results. There is also improved storage, with better photo and video compression.

It also allows users to send and receive payments from contacts via iMessage. The phone will block most notifications to reduce temptations behind the wheel.

And Apple will have a new "do not disturb" mode for driving. Microsoft also has announced its own speaker with Samsung's Harman business; it will use Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant.

It is not clear how it would differentiate drivers from passengers.

Apple CEO Tim Cook kicked off the five-day WWDC with announcements of a a new operating system, a new iPad Pro and a the HomePod, a music speaker and home assistant.

Safari, Apple's web browser, seeks to make users' online experience smoother and less annoying. It gives developers time to make programs before fall's big iPhone releases.

Apple is introducing an iPad Pro in a new size in an attempt to revive interest in its once hot-selling line of tablets. Schiller talked up the HomePod's "musicologist" features, which can answer requests like 'Play something new, ' 'What was the top song in 1983?' and 'Who's the drummer in this?'.

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