Apple aims to 'reinvent home music' with HomePod smart speaker

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose Monday.

HomePod will be taking Amazon Echo and Google Home, which have been building momentum in the market for voice-controlled speakers capable of controlling smart appliances, fetching content from the internet and more.

You can also ask other Siri queries, such as news headlines, the weather, sports scores and more. Unlike Amazon's new Echo Show, Apple's device does not have a screen. These giants are battling over still-emerging fields that are expected to turn into technological gold mines, much the way personal computers and smartphones became moneymaking machines in previous decades.

Apple is expected to announce plans this week to make its Siri voice assistant work with a larger variety of apps, but initial changes were expected to add just a small number of capabilities. Making the most of it will require a subscription to Apple's own music streaming service, which runs $10 to $15 per month and has attracted 27 million subscribers so far.

There's a new visual interface, and Siri will now give you multiple results when you ask a query. It starts shipping in the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia.

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 5.6 percent for others including Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon and Mattel. And if you have HomeKit-enabled devices, you can control your lights, garage door, air conditioning and more using this speaker. The rest of the world will get HomePod next year. Although that product came out after other smartwatches hit the market, it quickly outshone competitors, according to industry research firms.




Apple earlier introduced a new version of its iPad Pro, as well as a raft of new software updates.

Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, said on stage that the product has been in the works for "years". Google already tries to be proactive with its Assistant on Android phones and Google Home speaker. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smarthphones, he said.

Apple says it wants its digital assistant to be more helpful in navigating your digital life.

The latest version of Apple's Safari browser will be able to stop automatically playing videos as well as online trackers used for advertisers. It will not block the ads themselves, though.

For instance, if a contact sends you a request for money, Siri will immediately surface the new Apple Pay feature in your messages which allows you to make person-to-person payments, a challenge to PayPal Holdings Inc.'s similar Venmo system. It's part of Apple's effort to entice professionals with tablets that can handle many tasks previously reserved for laptops.

The company also rolled out tools for developers to create augmented reality applications for iPhones and iPads. Cook is aiming to double services revenue, which also includes products like iCloud and Apple Music, to around US$50bil (RM212.85bil) by 2020.

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