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New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Apple's home hub is here.

Originally rumored to be called Siri Speaker, the HomePod is a smart speaker with Wi-Fi capabilities meant to compete against Amazon Echo devices and Google Home-although it will be significantly more expensive. On its website, Apple describes it simply as getting an immersive listening experience no matter where HomePod is placed.

Apple is also updating the operating software for its Apple Watch, including new watch faces, more personalized alerts that use machine learning to tailor information to you based on your routines and tastes. Just by uttering, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music become the "musicologist", recognising preferences from hundreds of genres and moods, across various playlists, and shares them across devices. It's obviously no standalone subwoofer, but it outperforms what you'd expect from a speaker of this size.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the United States market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home. All communications are encrypted. When Amazon Echo and Google Home came and started selling good, it looked like Apple missed an opportunity.

Still, the Apple Watch hasn't been a smash hit, fueling worries that the company's ability to transfix customers had waned after the 2011 death of co-founder Steve Jobs. But the firms appear to have buried the hatchet a little.

Apple's Siri agent on the iPhone is available in 21 languages, although the HomePod will initially ship only for English. It also enhanced its workout app to, for instance, support high intensity interval training. It's unclear how Apple's music service will integrate with HomePod, although Apple's website boasts the smart speaker as having access to Apple Music's 40 million songs, so that seems to confirm it. The new desktops now have higher memory capacity and stronger graphics performance. The new Echo Show goes on sale on June 28 for $230.

Aimed at high-end design professionals rather than the home market, the iMac Pro is to begin shipping in December with a starting price of $4,999.

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Apple lovers already tend to be "premium product buyers", and may not flinch at paying more for what they believe is a superior quality product, said Gartner analyst Brian Blau.

In the eyes of many observers, that community of developers is really the only chance Apple has.

Apple Pay: The company also introduced a person-to-person payment feature to Apple Pay.

At the start of its conference, the Cupertino company announced an upcoming Apple TV update will add the one feature you've been waiting years for.

HomePod will take on lower priced Amazon Echo and Google Home, which have had momentum in the arena of voice-controlled speakers capable of controlling smart appliances, fetching content from the internet and more. Everyone realizes that the most efficient way to invest in the A.I. future is in tools, allowing you to make money every time anyone uses those tools to enrich themselves. If they reply "urgent" to that message, that message will be marked as such and go through. It also rolled out developer's kits for augmented reality and machine learning on iOS 11 and upgraded its Macintosh and iPad computers.

Elsewhere at the 2017 WWDC in San Jose, California, Apple confirmed a range of new operating systems for its devices. These new capabilities, Federighi said, make iOS the largest AR platform in the world.

To revive interest in its once-hot tablets, Apple is introducing a 10.5-inch iPad Pro with more storage, a better camera and room for a full-size keyboard.

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