Apple's new HomePod to compete with Amazon, Google

Apple's new HomePod to compete with Amazon, Google

Apart from some fancy audio tricks - most of which didn't really translate well into an on-screen demo - there doesn't seem to be much that the HomePod can do that an Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker can't do.

Naturally, HomePod is designed around two of AAPL's key services: Siri and Apple Music. A computer processor will tune sound to the room and beam specific parts of music, like a singer's voice, toward the listener.

Apple also said it was making its virtual assistant Siri more aware of context, enabling it to recommend and remind users more accurately based on how they use their device.

The service, which will launch first in the USA this fall, will put Apple Pay in direct competition with PayPal's Venmo, a leader in the growing peer-to-peer payments market.

Spending on smart home related hardware, services and installation fees will reach $155 billion by 2022, up from nearly $90 billion this year, with devices accounting for about half of that, the consulting firm also estimates.

As a home assistant, HomePod is a great way to send messages, get updates on news, sports and weather, or control smart home devices by simply asking Siri to turn on the lights, close the shades or activate a scene. It has been tested by some Apple employees in their homes for upwards of a year, according to people familiar with the matter. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. (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.

New iMacs are getting brighter displays and graphics capabilities. AUGMENTED REALITY Apple also used its annual developer meeting in San Jose, California - its largest ever with some 5,000 people attending - to offer hints about so-called augmented reality technology.

Other features coming to the Mac include the ability to stop video from automatically playing on websites when using Safari. Reading between the lines, there may be a slight admission here that HomePod might not be the smartest speaker on the block, but it will certainly sound the best.

The 7-inch smart speaker is spatially aware of it's surroundings, in glaring contrast to its users at the WWDC that sit on the floor hogging a power socket. Users of the new Apple Pay service will be able to use a debit card or the virtual Apple Pay Cash Card to make payments without being charged a fee; credit card transactions will incur a 3% fee.

This was revealed after Apple released the first beta of iOS 11 to developers shortly after unveiling the new update yesterday.

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