Published: Thu, June 08, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Merle Christensen

Apple to showcase new features for its gadgets

Look out Alexa and Echo, here comes the HomePod.

HomePod does offer much better sound performance when compared to the Google home and the Amazon Echo thanks to its seven built-in speakers.

The assistant has been heavily updated by Apple to better understand context, the firm says, and in HomePod will be able to answer user queries and details about music when prompted using the voice command "Hey, Siri". Siri inside this speaker, will be able to do more, to play music from the Apple's streaming service.

Some industry-watchers have also predicted Apple will announce hardware similar to Amazon's Echo device for the home, which has been a hot-seller in the USA.

The conference is typically devoted to software updates and this year, Apple released a series of new features and updates for the iPhone, the iPad, Mac and the Apple Watch - including an augmented-reality kit for developers aimed at making the iPhone "the largest AR platform in the world".

The speaker will sell for about $350 in December in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia.

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Ming-Chi Kuo, a famous Apple analyst at KGI Securities, said in a note obtained by Mac Rumors that there is a 50% chance of the Siri-powered smart speaker being launched at WWDC.

The Company that has entered the market late is already facing some serious competition from Amazon and Google despite being one of the first to deliver the Siri voice assistant for their iPhones in 2011.

More than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year, according the research firm eMarketer.

"A big question mark for the new speaker, though, is whether Siri is good enough to power its own dedicated device". United Kingdom and Australian prices are yet to be confirmed.

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.

There are spec differences too: HomePod features 7 tweeters, a 4-inch woofer, a 6-microphone array and an Apple A8 chip processor, while Echo features a 2.0-inch tweeter, a 2.5-inch woofer, a 7-microphone array and a Texas Instruments processor. Apple says that "only after "Hey Siri" is recognised locally on the device will any information be sent to Apple servers, encrypted and sent using an anonymous Siri identifier". HomePod will integrate with your other Apple devices through iCloud to fetch appointments and reminders as well.

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