Amazon-Apple TV deal shows tough road to cooperation for tech rivals

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In many ways, HomePod will be able to do the same things as an Amazon Echo or Google Home, including playing back podcasts, setting reminders, checking sports scores, translation and controlling internet-connected devices.

HomePod has been created to be a 7-inch with a 4-inch upward-facing woofer that Apple promises will rock nearly any room with distortion-free audio.

Apple says its Safari browser on the Mac will try to guard your privacy by identifying and blocking data files that track you as you move from website to website.

Apple is introducing a 10.5-inch iPad Pro in an attempt to revive interest in its once hot-selling line of tablets.

Apple said it is also using "on-device learning" to enable Siri to take people's tastes into account.

The updates in iOS 11 seem to be more about refinement rather than revolution, with most of the new features focusing on UI improvements.

As for availability, you can expect it in Australia later this year, with December the expected month we'll see this, just in time for the holiday season.

Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg TV Monday evening that the firm has been working on the new Home Pod for four years, with a particular focus on delivering an enhanced music experience. Apple instead suggested that we should compare the HomePod against the cost of quality Wi-Fi speakers, which are $300 to $500, plus the $50 to $200 cost of a smart speaker. Siri, a digital assistant that has been on Apple's iPhone since 2011, will be voice activated to respond to requests for information and other help around the house. Apple has never put all that much weight into being the first to market provided it can be the best when it finally gets there. It is powered by the same Apple A8 chip used in the latest iPhones.

But it's also possible that the HomePod could expose Siri as less capable than Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant and Microsoft's Cortana, Blaber said.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the USA market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home.

And as The Verge mentions, the Home Pod also has a "Musicologist" feature that "works with Apple Music to stream the music you ask the speaker's built-in Siri to play". That makes it a bit taller than the portly Google Home, and slightly shorter than canister-shaped Amazon Echo. You can also use it relay voice commands to smart appliances that use Apple's smart-home software, HomeKit (these include a range of smart bulbs, thermostats, and so on, but excludes Google-owned Nest's smart thermostat).

At the event, a parade of executives unveiled updates to Apple's hardware, software and mobile applications, or apps, including iMac desktop computer, MacBook laptop machine, iPad, Apple Watch, iOS software operating system and App Store.

Also worth noting: Apple didn't announce support for any music services beyond its own Apple Music. HomePod features a large, Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters that provide pure high frequency acoustics with incredible directional control and powerful technologies built right in to preserve the richness and intent of the original recordings.