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Apple announces HomePod at WWDC17

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New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

A new Apple HomePod smart speaker is seen on display during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. Augmented reality is the blending of the physical and virtual worlds.

According to Tim Cook, Apple CEO, the focus will be on music in the first instance: "Just like we did with portable music we want to reinvent home music". To get its attention, users simply say, "Hey, Siri".

Inside the speaker, there are seven tweeters, each with their own driver, that give sound precise directional control.

Siri can also handle advanced searches within the music library, so users can ask questions like "Hey Siri, who's the drummer in this?" or create a shared Up Next queue with everyone in the home.

Imagine what Apple could do if it didn't mind losing money on one product like a home speaker or from potential future products like an Apple vehicle or glasses that mix the virtual world with reality like the Pokemon Go game.

"We estimate there is a brewing domestic ecosystem [for smart connected speakers] which could leverage AI developments at Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent", Shah said.

The primary technology here is "direct and ambient audio beamforming", which allows the HomePod to learn the space of the room and optimize its audio.

"You don't have to know what any of that is", said Schiller. Whereas the Echo and Home are pitched as entry points for a whole ecosystem of artificially intelligent, voice-powered services and devices, the HomePod is being pitched as a high-quality music player that happens to be integrated with Apple's Siri voice assistant.

Apple said overnight that HomePod would cost $US349.

It's game-time! Apple just announced its long-awaited take on a smart speaker, completing the smart speaker triumvirate along with Google and Amazon.

Apple has also priced the HomePod much higher than rival devices, though the Cupertino company looks to be targeting music streaming speakers as well as Google and Amazon's smart speakers, so the higher price has some justification.

Machine learning was a recurring theme throughout Apple's presentation today, and it powers a wide range of features across Apple's devices, from recognizing images on Mac to improving battery life on iPhone. Named as the Apple HomePod, the speakers are a competition to the Sonos PLAY:3, Amazon Echo, and the Google Home speakers.

"Now the iPad is very similar in experience to the Macintosh", he added.

"The outcomes of these deals may factor into future conversations", said Scott Jacobson, a former Amazon manager and now managing director of Madrona Venture Group.

With the next version of the iOS system for mobile devices, messages will sync in the cloud. Like using Apple Pay at a store, you'll need to use Touch ID to complete a payment. "This is a big step up for iOS".

Retailing for $4,999, the newest member of Apple's iMac family, the iMac Pro, will be available in December, and promises to be the "most powerful Mac ever". Federighi said that with millions of iPhones and iPads capable of supporting AR, ARKit will become "the largest AR platform in the world" overnight.

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