Apple pushes Siri to the fore at annual developer conference

New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Apple was expected to announce a smart speaker, a market that Amazon - with its sleeper hit, the Echo - and the later Google Home, powered by Assistant - now dominate, given them an integral place in users' lives.

An internet-connected speaker called HomePod is coming in December for about $350.

It feels even odder to write this: Highly profitable Apple should try to become a little more like profit-challenged Amazon in the financial strategy behind its hardware business. That makes it three times more expensive than Google Home and about twice the price of the Amazon Echo. It will automatically send a text message to people who text you to let them know you'll respond back later.

Not only will Apple offer new male and female voices, but Apple says using the latest advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, their voices will be more natural and expressive, adjust intonation, pitch, emphasis and tempo while speaking and can translate English words and phrases into Chinese, French, German, Italian or Spanish. The smartwatch promises to learn about your routines to figure out what information to display. The features are part of the Mac software update this fall, to be called High Sierra.

The iMac Pro means AR/VR experience design just went mainstream - particularly with macOS High Sierra.

Philip Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, commented: "Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes".

Apple hosted its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this week where it debuted a host of updates such as: software features including an adblocking update to Safari; a new look App Store; plus a smart speaker HomePod; as well as additions to its desktop and iPad range. Siri will also of course be baked into the speaker, letting users get quick help by saying, "Hey Siri".

The money can be stored on a virtual card and used with Apple Pay, which Apple expects will be accepted in 50 percent of USA retailers by the end of the year.

Apple unveils 'HomePod' speaker, first new product in years
It can easily be argued that the market is saturated with speakers pushing themselves as great voice-activated assistants. The younger siblings of the Apple hardware world, the Apple TV and Apple Watch are also due for some software updates.

First time support for Virtual Reality (VR).

For photos, Apple is turning to a "high efficiency" format to replace the widely used JPEG standard.

Apple made a big deal about bringing Siri to the Apple TV, but you don't hear much about it anymore.

Apple's other PCs are all getting speed and performance updates. iMacs are getting across-the-board speed improvements and more storage.

Apple's software honcho Craig Federighi introduced the new iOS 11 for iPhones and iPads.

The conference starts Monday in San Jose, California. It's also what Microsoft is targeting with the Surface Pro; a new model comes out on June 15.

With the next version of the iOS system for mobile devices, messages will sync in the cloud. The speaker features an Apple-designed upward-facing woofer, paired with the custom A8 chip, enabling bass management through real-time software modelling.

Apple needs great video to sell its TV player. Apple Pay now also supports person-to-person payment. Google Maps already does both. Car Play also got a bunch of new upgrades which ensures that drivers are always safe while driving. The phone will block most notifications to reduce temptations behind the wheel.

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