Apple pushes Siri to the fore at annual developer conference

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Amazon and Google's home speaker devices have been battling it out in recent months, but the $349 HomePod will be Apple's first entry into the market.

Customers can also use the HomePod with Apple's HomeKit system, meaning they can control smart lightbulbs, door locks and thermostats with voice commands - just as they can with the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

The HomePod will work as a home assistant, for sending messages, getting updates on news, sports and weather, or controling smart home devices by simply asking Siri to turn on the lights or activate a scene. The natural comparison here is to "smart speakers" like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

CEO Tim Cook also used the Apple keynote to show off new iPad and Mac computer models, as well as provide glimpses at coming versions of the software powering the technology titan's devices.

But it all comes for a fairly hefty price. Google followed with its Home speaker, featuring its plain-named Assistant, last year.

Today at WWDC 2017, Apple announced its long-rumoured smart speaker solution.

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. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year. With Siri, the HomePod doubles up as a home speaker.

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HomePod users may initially be constrained by Siri's lack of capabilities as compared to Alexa, which also boasts the ability to order millions of Amazon products as well as food from restaurants like Domino's.

WWDC is Apple's annual pitch to software engineers to continue building programs for the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. Siri also has a new screen in the Apple Watch which presents data and information that may echo earlier behavior at a similar time of day or the week.

Apple says it's contextually aware, so you can ask tell Siri something like "Play something now" and then follow it up with "Who's singing".

The new smaller version of Apple TV is displayed at an Apple Special Event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts September 1, 2010 in San Francisco, California.

"The fact that Apple is claiming to marry really great and smart audio with a smart assistant and cloud music service makes this device unique in the market".

And on the hardware side, the new $5k iMac Pro will be the most powerful ever made, with 5.5 teraflops (a real thing) of graphics processing power on its smoogletron (not a real thing).

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