Apple 'HomePod' speaker to take on Amazon, Google

Apple 'HomePod' speaker to take on Amazon, Google

Apple 'HomePod' speaker to take on Amazon, Google

Shipments of intelligent home speakers surged almost 600 per cent year-over-year to 4.2 million units in the fourth quarter, with Amazon taking about 88 per cent share and Google 10 percent, according to consultant Strategy Analytics.

Apple's annual conference for app developers begins Monday in San Jose, California. As a music-playing device, it will also be a challenger to Sonos, whose wifi-controlled speakers are used by many smartphone users for home entertainment.

Apple also unveiled a key content deal when Chief Executive Tim Cook said that content from Amazon Prime Video, long absent from the Apple TV product, would come to Apple devices such as the TV, iPhones and iPad later this year. Amazon dominated shipments in the three months through December, selling 88% of the 4.2 million smart speakers sold globally in that period.

More broadly, Apple has built tools for artificial intelligence and augmented reality, and now the company is starting to let outside developers use those tools to enhance their own applications. But Apple occasionally also uses the event to introduce new devices and services and upgrades to existing products.

Below is The Verge's 19-minute edit of the full keynote.

Also, Schiller made a point to say that Apple cares a lot about its user's privacy, so nothing is ever being sent until you say "Hey Siri".

The HomePod is a 6.8-inch speaker driven by an Apple A8 SoC to handle echo cancellation and optimize sound for a given space.

The headline announcement was Apple's new HomePod, a smart speaker which will be competing with the Amazon Echo and Google Home. It will allow users to talk to Siri, Apple's digital assistant, while at home and costs US$349 (S$ 481) - nearly double the price of most competing products.

The "HomePod" speaker unveiled Monday is similar to devices from rivals, some of which have been on the market for years.

However, Adam Scott from comparison service PriceSpy said Apple's "late" arrival to the smart speaker market could prove an advantage.

The new iPad Pro will have a 10.5-inch screen, placing it between the current 9.7 and 13-inch screens of Apple's flagship tablet.

Trusted Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, has given a "more than fifty percent chance" of Apple unveiling a Siri speaker - and he was right! All communications to the cloud are encrypted. You can voice command the HomePod to perform various tasks, such as turning off lights, sending messages, providing weather updates, editing calendars, and other helpful things.

And the operating system for mobile devices is getting a major update with iOS 11.

Mac models were also boosted to work with virtual reality gear, a move by Apple into technology that Facebook has embraced with its Oculus unit.

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