New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

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It is the first new device Apple has announced in nearly three years.

In this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 file photo, a person stands.

In addition to the various types of aid current smart speakers provide, HomePod features what Apple calls "spacial awareness", which allows the device to sense room size and occupying furniture to adjust audio as needed, according to CNET.

As for support for third-party developers, Amazon features Alexa Skills while Apple now does not offer a comparable service for the HomePod.

"Though Apple appears to be playing catch up with Amazon and Google, the primary casualty here may be Sonos".

HomePod will 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. Google Home followed in October and Microsoft's assistant, Cortana, is also finding a home in home speakers.

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

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To read this article in one of Houston's most-spoken languages, click on the button below. Expect the HomePod to ship this December, presumably just in time for last-minute Christmas buying.

In one demo at Apple's annual conference for software programmers, Apple executive Craig Federighi pointed a camera at a table on stage and added a virtual coffee cup and a lamp on the real table. Microsoft also has announced its own speaker with Samsung's Harman business; it will use Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant. It features six microphones so users should be able to communicate with the almost 7-inch tall speaker from across the room, whether it's asking Siri who plays a song, sending a message to a pal, or commanding different aspects of a smart home setup.

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. It also combats the competitive threat from Google's and Amazon's connected speakers: Those don't support Apple services like Apple Music, which brings in US$10 in revenue per user each month.

Users can ask the speaker to read them the latest news, play podcasts, set reminders - everything that's already possible with Siri on other Apple devices.

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the Homepod. The more powerful iMac is meant to address concerns of creative professionals who had been limited to much less powerful iMacs or the much-loved Mac Pro, which hasn't been updated since 2013.

The A8 chip is also used to power Siri, which can be used to issue commands through a six-microphone array.

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