New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

The long anticipated Apple rival to the Amazon Echo and Google Home, dubbed Home Pod, has arrived. It also includes new technology like Apple's AirPlay 2 protocol, which allows multi-speaker support that will enable multiple HomePod devices to wirelessly communicate with each other.

Apple appears poised to unveil a voice-activated, internet-connected speaker that would create a new digital pipeline into people's homes.

Tapping Apple's (AAPL) Siri digital assistant, such a speaker is expected to serve as a butler as well as an outlet for listening to music. Schiller waited until last in his announcement of the HomePod even to mention the role of Siri and the ability to answer questions.

As you would expect, the device relies heavily on its integration with Apple Music, with Apple's vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller touting the music streaming service's access to over 40 million songs. Even in the US, United Kingdom and Australia, that would appear to be later than would be ideal to catch the important holiday season. We'll have to wait until December like everywhere else, but it's reassuring to know at least that we won't be left waiting without any release date whatsoever as we have with the Google Home and Amazon Alexa. The speaker is similar to cheaper devices from Amazon and Google. 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.

- Artificial intelligence. For the past few years Apple has been busy integrating machine learning into many of its products - but it's only over the past year or so that the company has been more open about its efforts.

According to technology market research firm Futuresource Consulting Ltd.

The lack of a breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone.

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But overall, Apple showed enough innovation at WWDC 2017 to give consumers and marketers reason to believe that the upcoming introduction of the 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone will capture hearts, minds, dollars, and our attention.

Analysts said the smart home speaker market is ripe for Apple.

Apple is making a competitor to Amazon's Echo speaker, and it features a familiar voice: Siri.

The new iMac Pro is a matte gray 27-inch computer that Apple says is the most powerful Mac it's ever made.

Apple still does not have its own VR headset to announce yet, but that does not mean the company is ignoring one of today's hottest tech trends. New iMacs released Monday are getting better displays and graphics capabilities. There's also a 12.9in version that starts at $799. It will not actually block ads, though. It's part of Apple's effort to entice professionals with tablets that can handle many tasks previously reserved for laptops.

Apple also revealed new safety systems for using iPhones within cars, featuring an enhanced "do not disturb" function. "If Apple does not launch a "skills store", that would be a mistake". So far, the service has limited payments to purchases of products and services from companies and other organizations.

Ortutay reported from NY.

  • Toni Ryan