New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Trump: US 'Will Do Everything to Help UK'

With its always-on voice assistant and ability to control connected devices, the HomePod is very similar to Echo devices and Google Home, but with a few notable differences.

It is also created to work with Apple Music subscriptions, able to access your music library and make recommendations based on song history. In addition, Siri on the HomePod can help you answer some of your most burning questions like, "What's the best Korean barbecue restaurant nearby?" or "Did the Warriors win last night?"

The HomePod will not be available until December of this year-to fit in with the launch of iOS 11, presumably-and only available (at first) in the United States, the UK and Australia. 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 Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released a year ago, were the first entrants in a promising market.

It starts shipping later this year in the US, United Kingdom and Australia.

It is the first new device Apple has announced in nearly three years.

New indoor maps of areas like malls and airports indicated that Apple might be laying groundwork to display information over images of those places in the future.


Apple (AAPL) finally has a horse in one of the hottest consumer tech categories out there.

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. The company "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. However, Siri has been slow to improve its voice-recognition technology and set of responses, especially compared with the more capable Alexa and Google Assistant.

The CEO Tim Cook announced the update at Apple's annual conference for software programmers on Monday.

Apple's senior vice-president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, demonstrated the company's AR capabilities by placing a virtual coffee cup, lamp and vase onto a real table.

Safari, Apple's web browser, seeks to make users' online experience smoother and less annoying. It also introduced autoplay blocking, which stops music and video from playing automatically without your permission on websites as well as "intelligent tracking prevention", which stops ads from following you around the web.

There was also a new 10.5in version of the iPad Pro, the tablet for professional users, which can support a full-sized keyboard cover. So far, the service has limited payments to purchases of products and services from companies and other organizations.

HomePod capped a keynote presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference that included updates to its iPad and Mac laptop lines, and upgraded operating software enabling augmented reality for iPhones and iPads.

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