Siri speaker, iOS 11 likely to be unveiled

Customers can also use the HomePod with Apple's HomeKit system, meaning they can control smart lightbulbs, door locks and thermostats with voice commands - just as they can with the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

The company trotted out two "competing" devices, a Sonos Play 3 speaker ($299) and an Amazon Echo ($180), to receive something of an audio beating at the hands of the HomePod ($349).

However, if you're thinking the Siri speaker will follow the usual Apple MO of swooping into a new or sleepy category with a better product, you're probably in for a disappointment.

The HomePod is also integrated with Apple's HomeKit smart home platform and can complete HomeKit commands, like turning on air conditioning and adjusting window blinds. Siri also has a new screen in the Apple Watch which presents data and information that may echo earlier behavior at a similar time of day or the week.

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"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod, and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide marketing.

More recently, reports surfaced indicating that Apple's Siri speaker will boast virtual surround sound.

■ As far as hardware is concerned, rumours are centered on the introduction of a new "Siri speaker" that would bring Apple's digital assistant on a level playing field with devices such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Once again, Apple has illustrated how they prefer to take a step back and assess where the market is moving before throwing their virtual hat in the ring and carving out their own niche. For example, if Siri notices that you're reading stories about Iceland in the Safari web browser, it might begin suggesting Iceland-related news from the Apple News app.

Apple, unlike Amazon or Google, is more interested in selling hardware than in using its devices to attract users for its services. All information is recorded locally on the device and sent to Apple servers encrypted using an anonymously Siri identifier.

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The device syncs with Apple Music to provide a "deep knowledge of personal music preferences and tastes", which hopefully isn't as creepy as it sounds. Siri was introduced as a feature in the iPhone 4S in 2011, three years before Amazon came out with Alexa and the Echo. Cook is aiming to double services revenue, which also includes products like iCloud and Apple Music, to around $50 billion by 2020. This might be something that could pair with an Apple TV and not only play music but also play the audio for your TV shows and movies.

Apple's announcement of AirPlay 2.0 was something it breezed through during Monday's WWDC keynote. Although the format is not exclusive to Apple, it's not yet clear how well the photos will work with non-Apple software and devices, which mostly use JPEG. It starts shipping in the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia. It's the first time in 15 years that Apple has held its conference in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley. Siri is in third place behind Google Home and Amazon's Alexa when it come to offering intuitive, natural digital assistant.

The free software, iOS 11, is expected in September, when Apple typically releases new iPhones.

Tapping Apple's Siri digital assistant, such a speaker is expected to serve as a butler as well as an outlet for listening to music.

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The company rolled out new tools for developers to create augmented reality applications for iPhones and iPads.


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