Apple pushes Siri to the fore at annual developer conference

Apple pushes Siri to the fore at annual developer conference

Apple pushes Siri to the fore at annual developer conference

Dubbed "HomePod" the new speaker appears to have a strong focus on music, with Apple touting it as a speaker to "reinvent home music" through features such as "Rock the house" sound, spatial awareness, and "Musicologist". It will then enter other global markets in 2018. It would mark an effort by Apple to catch up with Amazon and Google. Siri can be activated using the command "Hey, Siri". 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 double its estimate from last year. The pricing of Apple's device was shared at the conference in comparison to both smart home speakers as well as premium audio speakers. The device uses the company's Siri personal digital assistant that is now found on its other devices and also incorporates its Apple Music. It's meant to be set up in a home and used by the regular occupants as opposed to carried around and casually connected to by anyone with a smartphone.

Siri got the ability to translate languages, something Google has provided through Google Translate since 2006.

While whispers of a touch-enabled Mac line that would open the door to more versatile Apple machines turned out to be baseless, Apple is significantly updating several of its existing products with modern components, as well as introducing a new turbo-charged iMac. It unveiled the Apple Watch in September 2014.

Apple "can't afford to yield valuable real-estate in the heart of people's homes to Amazon, Google and others", said Geoff Blaber, research analyst at CCS Insight. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smarthphones, he said.

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Under the bonnet the speaker has 7-beam forming tweeters and a 4-inch woofer facing upwards. The chip does all the audio engineering - real-time acoustic modelling, audio beam forming and echo cancellation.

"It's the biggest brains ever in a speaker", said Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller. Probably sensibly, Apple executives spent far less time trumpeting how HomePod will work with Siri, which is still too dumb for all but basic functions like setting reminders. Users can ask HomePod to do simple things like play a song or an Apple's Beat 1 Radio, or even ask who is singing or playing drum on a track.

First, there's the name, HomePod, which hearkens back to Apple's iPod-a device that has always been focused nearly exclusively on tunes. One issue here is whether the HomePod will play nice with other music streaming services like Spotify. Apple's entry into the market could change that. Amazon has heavily dominated the field with its home speaker called Echo, which uses the digital assistant Alexa.

According to sources Sonos has ambitions on integrating with every intelligent voice assistant out there. Augmented reality is the blending of the physical and virtual worlds. Samsung and Google already have VR systems centered on their smartphones.

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