Apple Launches HomePod-A Smart Speaker for Homes

Posted June 07, 2017

Apple is expected to unveil new features for its Apple Watch as its Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off on Monday. Siri also has a new screen in the Apple Watch which presents data and information that may echo earlier behaviour at a similar time of day or the week.

At the event in San Jose, Northern California, not far from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Cook said his company now has 16 million registered software developers worldwide for its consumer electronics and 3 million of them were added past year.

Positioning the HomePod as a music-focused smart speaker is no surprise, as Apple knows one thing or two about music indeed.

The moves announced Monday escalate Apple's technological battle of wits with Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook.

New photo editing tools, as well as filtering tools based on machine learning which can sort images by keywords and faces, will refresh the Photos app in High Sierra too.

Apple HomePod, Google Home, and Amazon Echo are essentially internet-connected speakers which directly stream music from services like Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Amazon Prime Music.

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"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes", says Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Apple also made improvements to Siri including making the assistant's voice sound more natural when responding to users.

The HomePod is covered in cloth, which hides an array of speakers within - it plays music in all directions, but it's aware of whatever space it's in and directs sounds accordingly. Apple said HomePod can separate vocals and other parts of the music via Apple Music, but that more recent recordings will perform the separation better.

Moreover, this HomePod is more expensive as compared to Amazon Echo and Google Home. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year.

In related travel tech news, Apple Maps should become more useful with detailed floor plans of airport terminals, starting with 30 airports, from Amsterdam to Vancouver, when the new operating system is released.

Apple's strict adherence to profit goals can potentially hinder experiments and runs counter to efforts to pitch itself as more than a hardware company, even though Apple generates 88% of its annual sales from iPhones, computers, iPads, headphones and other hardware. The HomePod will ship in December and is priced at $349. Apple is depending on spatial awareness to achieve its goal of reinventing home music, although it's pretty hard to imagine anyone would shell out $349 for a smart speaker. A Google Home killer? By saying, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music will learn user preferences.

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The HomePod is Hey Siri enabled with 6 multi-directional microphones that can interpret the way you say "Hey Siri" with its memory.

The announcements follow complaints that Apple has let its Mac computers languish in favour of its better-selling products, namely the iPhone.

New iMacs are getting brighter displays and graphics capabilities.

It will come with an upgraded version of the Safari web browser which will prevent videos from autoplaying and prevent users from being tracked across sites. It will not block the ads themselves, though.

"A big question mark for the new speaker, though, is whether Siri is good enough to power its own dedicated device".

For photos, Apple is replacing JPEGs with a new format meant to reduce file sizes.

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Apple is also bringing the ability to pay back a friend or other individual through its payment service, Apple Pay.