November 19 2017

Apple unveils $349 HomePod to compete with Amazon Echo, Google Home

November 19 2017, 06:58 | Geraldine Moore

Amazon Alexa To Beat Siri

Siri gets another shot at getting it right

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. HomePod, Apple Music and Siri deliver the best music experience in the home that streams ad-free directly to HomePod.

According to Apple, the device emphasizes audio quality; the tiny speaker is packed seven tweeters and a woofer, as well as "spatial awareness" that detects its location in a room and adapts the output automatically.

HomePod is set up so that it works directly with Apple Music. It is also powered by the Cupertino giant's A8 chip and is said to be available in the market in select regions including Australia, the USA, and the United Kingdom in two color options - White and Space Grey.

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

The event started with Apple CEO welcoming the audience, praising the Apple developer community which already has 16 million registered developers and added three million a year ago.

Apple is also bringing more machine learning and augmented reality capabilities to the iPhone, which will help developers create apps that use these features. The app will let users stream all the Amazon original hits. If you buy an Alexa-enabled appliance, you'll also be able to ask it to call you an Uber or play trivia games with you.

Cook did not mention when the Amazon Prime Video service will be coming to Apple TV, only revealing that it will be available sometime later this year. There's also a 12.9in version that starts at $799. We know Siri is getting some more elegant voices, but we'll have to see if how it makes the leap into this new body before rendering a final verdict.

The browser's new "intelligent tracking prevention", meanwhile, will use machine learning to identify and block digital-ad trackers in order to keep advertisers from following and profiling users.

Other new watchfaces include a kaleidoscope and new characters such as Woody, Jesse, and Buzz from the Toy Story movie franchise.

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.

A new "high efficiency" photo format will replace the widely used JPEG standard.

The MacBook Pros are also updated with Kaby Lake processors and up to 50 per cent graphics processing power.

We'll update this post as more news comes out. The more powerful iMac is meant to address concerns of creative professionals who had been limited to much less powerful iMacs or the much-loved Mac Pro, which hasn't been updated since 2013.

As a home assistant, HomePod is a great way to send messages, get updates on news, sports and weather, or control smart home devices by simply asking Siri to turn on the lights, close the shades or activate a scene.

Announcing the Siri speaker was just one of many Siri-related upgrades that came out of this year's WWDC.

The company said its App Store has so far paid out 70 billion US dollars to developers, of which 30 percent was made previous year.

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