Siri, speakers and software: Highlights from the Apple show

Apple's WorldWide Developer's Conference this morning had got a lot stronger buzz on social media than some of its recent events.

Apple told the developers they were overhauling the App Store, giving it a fresh look, and beginning to add the floor plans of shops and airports to its mapping program.

"It's the biggest brain inside a speaker", Apple marketing head Phil Schiller proclaimed.

"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".

But some tech heads reviewing the product said Apple customers might be disappointed by its lack of revolutionary new features.

Like offerings from Google and Amazon the new Apple HomePod has an intelligent voice assistant baked in. Siri also has a new screen in the Apple Watch which presents data and information that may echo earlier behavior at a similar time of day or the week. Instead, it positioned the product as a more of a smart speaker that is wedded to Apple Music and happens to also have other capabilities thanks to its Siri integration.

It is created to work with the Apple Music subscription service and can produce rich sound while tapping into the artificial intelligence power of Siri. "We feel like we reinvented it in the portable player arena, and we feel like we reinvented it in the home arena as well".


The HomePod will be available starting in December, initially in the US, the United Kingdom, and Australia. After many years of trials and tribulations, the two sources finally reached the agreement to bring the Amazon Prime Video application to Apple TV.

More than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year, according to the research firm eMarketer. And it would mark an effort by Apple to catch up with Amazon and Google.

The HomePod is Apple's first new line of products since the Apple Watch in 2015. Inside is the same processor that powers the iPhone and an upward-facing 4-inch woofer. Apple's entry into the market could change that. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smartphones, he said. Combined with Siri you'll be able to ask it to "play more from this band" or ask for more songs with the same guitarist and the like. Throughout this feature I've compared Apple's speaker to the Play:3, my favourite Sonos speaker priced at £299/$299. That's twice of what the other speakers cost, but again, Apple has always had it this way in pricing.

The new iMac Pro is the most powerful Mac ever made, according to Apple.

Safari, Apple's web browser, seeks to make users' online experience smoother and less annoying. It will block videos that start playing automatically, for instance, and can also prevent ads from following and profiling users. It will not block the ads themselves, though. Or if someone texts you about owing money, it will ask if you want to pay using Apple Pay.

The company rounded out its computer announcements with devices focused more on the professional market.

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