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Apple 'HomePod' speaker to take on Amazon, Google

08 June 2017

Apple lost ground to Spotify in the early days of music streaming, and its home speaker is meant to be a booster rocket for Apple Music. HomePod combines Apple-engineered audio technology and advanced software to deliver the highest-fidelity sound throughout the room, no matter where it's placed. HomePod will act as a HomeKit base, allowing users to control their homes from anywhere in the world, something now offered on select Apple TV and iPad models. "The fact that Apple is claiming to marry really great and smart audio with a smart assistant and cloud music service makes this device unique in the market".

Amazon has dominated the connected speakers category since 2014 when it introduced its first Echo, which responds to voice commands and allows users to order goods and control connected appliances.

The next iOS may also have new features designed for artificial intelligence, the application of computers that learn and understand things like humans.

Apple's HomePod, which will be available for purchase in December, is priced at $349. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year. HomePod comes three years after Amazon launched the Echo and six months after Google launched its Home. In one demo, Apple executive Craig Federighi pointed a camera at a table on stage and added a virtual coffee cup and a lamp on the real table. (Many reviewers have suggested that the current incarnation of Apple's assistant already trails competitors in key respects.) "This is the start of the AI wars", he said.

The company has paid out more than $70 billion to developers and given that 160 billion apps have been downloaded to date, it's clear Apple sees this as a strength of its business going forward.

In his address, Apple CEO Tim Cook focused on several new areas, including TVOS, the operating system that powers Apple TV.

Conor McGregor up 61 places in Forbes highest-paid list
World number two tennis player Serena Williams is the only woman on the list, in 51st, with $27m (£20.92m) made a year ago . Woods ranks No 17 this year, while Mayweather did not make the cut, having had no fights over the past 12 months.

WWDC is Apple's annual pitch to software engineers to continue building programs for the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. It also allows users to browse large product images and videos, and view star ratings and customer reviews on the product's detail page, the report explained.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro size will remain, but will be refreshed with the new technology upgrades. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is available in silver, Space Gray and gold and starts at $799 for the 64 GB Wi-Fi model and $929 for the 64 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

Siri now also has a male American voice, and is said to be more expressive due to a new visual interface.

In a nod to Amazon streaming fans, Apple is also bringing Amazon Prime to its Apple TV app.

Apple said that watch wearers will be able to link their devices with the gym equipment through NFC.