Apple to showcase new features for its gadgets

Apple has finally unveiled its answer to Amazon's and Google's smart speakers slash digital assistants - and it's called HomePod. This is what is rumoured to be underpinning Apple's smart assistant product. Schiller said devices like the Amazon Echo have poor sound quality, and wifi speakers like Sonos don't have interactive voice assistants.

Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, said on stage that the product has been in the works for "years".

Apple's is unveiling new features at its annual conference for software programmers on Monday.

Mr. Lynch said Apple is updating the music feature on the app, making playlists available and album art.

The HomePod will first be available in December to customers in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia.

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.

Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said the next Mac operating system will be named "High Sierra" in tribute to the California mountain range.




The tech giant announced the updated iMacs would have new, faster processors as well as "43% brighter" displays.

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. Facebook, HTC and Sony have high-end VR systems, too. But Apple really emphasized one thing in particular... So far, interest in VR has been strongest among gamers, developers and hardware makers rather than everyday users. Its entry into digital-music sales with iTunes, and into the smartphone market with the iPhone, upended those industries and gave them mass appeal.

Other features coming to iPhones and iPads include messages syncing in the cloud. Federighi reiterated that numerous advanced deep learning and artificial intelligence analysis - such as finding your location, facial recognition in photos, and setting calendar reminders - is done on the device, shutting Apple out of the loop - preventing anyone from asking Apple for data it doesn't have.

Apple is also bringing the ability to pay back a friend or other individual through its payment service, Apple Pay.

But Apple occasionally also uses the event to introduce new devices and services and upgrades to existing products. (Make that seven: CDN managing editor David Frith commands Siri to set an alarm clock - much easier than fiddling with finger taps).

Safari, Apple's web browser, seeks to make users' online experience smoother and less annoying. It will not actually block ads, though.

Apple is rumored to be working on a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, with a screen that inches even closer to the edges of the device. HomePod is also created to work with the newly-announced AirPlay 2 multi-room audio solution, which allows the two to automatically detect and balance each other for a more "lifelike" sound. Siri updates the watch face with new information through the day - think calendar entries, flight information, or smart home controls - using "machine learning to adjust automatically based on your routine" according to Apple's vice-president of technology Kevin Lynch. The company said its software has been updated to offer high-intensity interval training. The company has addressed the problems with gym equipment as well with WatchOS 4.

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