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New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference
08 June 2017, 02:10 | Harold Aguilar
Although Siri would likely be a centerpiece of a smart speaker from Apple, Moorhead said the device's design, colors and acoustics will also likely be focal points because the company has a long history of making elegantly designed products. New iMacs and MacBook laptops start shipping Monday.
Schiller had much less to say about HomePod's broader Siri smarts, although the product page on Apple's website hints that it can perform numerous smart home tasks that an Amazon Echo or Google Home can do. Apple said it would make the device available in additional markets next year. In addition to playing music, HomePod can provide news, general knowledge, reminders, podcasts, translation, weather, and HomeKit controls, among other things.
HomePod includes Siri voice integration and will function as a "home assistant", according to Schiller.
Unlike those other smart speakers, Apple is positioning the HomePod primarily as a way to listen to and discover new songs and artists.
Also worth noting:Apple didn't announce support for any music services beyond its own Apple Music.
The company is casting Siri as a music connoisseur that will learn and cater to the tastes of the HomePod's owners, as well as answer questions about the songs as they are played.
The smart speaker works by talking to an updated Siri that better understands music-related requests, Apple said during its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California.
The HomePod speaker stands just under seven inches (18 cm) tall and is covered in fabric mesh that will come in white or gray. The protection is similar to what Google Home and Amazon's Echo speakers already offer.
A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the United States market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home and 5.6 percent for others including Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon and Mattel.
HomePod is a breakthrough wireless speaker for the home that delivers incredible audio quality and uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio.
It wouldn't be the first time that Apple hopped on the bandwagon of a technology product popularized by a competitor. During Jobs' last decade, Apple introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad all huge commercial successes that both reshaped daily life and swamped previous digital music players, smartphones and tablets. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smartphones, he said.
Following in Google's footsteps, Siri will also be able to translate and speak phrases from six languages, with more coming later, Apple said.
Apple said it will be the "most powerful Mac" the company has ever made.
Apple had plenty of other announcements.
The new iPad Pro also comes with a better camera - the same one found in the iPhone 7 - along with more storage, a better display and faster refreshing of moving images.
Apple is trying to make augmented reality a reality with new tools for iPhones and iPads.
Safari, Apple's web browser, is getting new features aimed at online annoyances. It will not actually block ads, though.
Apple is introducing an iPad Pro in a new size in an attempt to revive interest in its once hot-selling line of tablets. 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.
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.
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