Apple Announces New 'Homepod' Smart Speaker

Apple HomePod

DAILY STAR ONLINE NEW Apple's Home Pod is set to take on the Amazon Echo

IDC expects worldwide smartphone shipments to rise 4.2 percent this year, which is a rebound from the record low 2.5 percent gain a year ago but well under the double-digit increases of past years. Like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, the HomePod will play music while also helping people to manage their lives and homes.

A key issue for any manufacturer of a voice-activated smart device, Apple states "security and privacy are fundamental" to the design of HomePod, as with other Apple products.

Regardless of whether consumers care enough about audio quality, there are enough Apple fans who are likely hungry for a product like this as rivals Amazon and Google have come out ahead.

"There is so much momentum building around these speakers that it would be hard for Apple not to come out with one", said industry analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

It will ship in December at a $349 suggested retail.

Google merely lists a "high excursion speaker" in its Home gadget.

The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released previous year, were the first entrants in a promising market.

The tech giant's new voice-activated speaker is set to "reinvent" music in our homes.

Apple's new iMacs are getting brighter displays and graphics capabilities, which Apple says makes the Mac a great platform for developing virtual-reality experiences.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 file photo, a person stands near the Apple logo at the company's store in Grand Central Terminal, in NY. Samsung and Google already have VR systems centered on their smartphones. So far, interest in VR has been strongest among gamers, developers and hardware makers rather than everyday users.

Apple is trying to catch-up. Only the most recent messages will be kept on the device to save storage space.

For photos, Apple is turning to a "high efficiency" format to replace the widely used JPEG standard. To take on its rival Echo, Apple had always been rumored to be working on a device. "Apple today was much more focused on talking about it".

HomePod is made for use with iPhone 5s and later, running iOS 11. According to market research firm eMarketer, Amazon will capture 70.6 percent of all voice-enabled speaker users in the United States this year. At WWDC, Apple announced the speaker category for HomeKit, so other speaker makers could more tightly integrate with iOS.

It also allows users to send and receive payments from contacts via iMessage. Yeah, that's tracking. The updated browser will use machine learning to identify advertisers and other businesses that keep tabs on your browsing habits. It will not block the ads themselves, though.

A new iMac Pro is on the way too.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro size will remain, but will be refreshed with the new technology upgrades.

Also worth noting: Apple didn't announce support for any music services beyond its own Apple Music. The new model starts at $649 and will start shipping next week.

By saying, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music become the flawless musicologist, learning preferences from hundreds of genres and moods, across tens of thousands of playlists, and these music tastes are shared across devices.

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