New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

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The smartness around music could give the HomePod a significant advantage over the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers. It will allow users to talk to Siri, Apple's digital assistant, while at home and costs US$349 (S$ 481) - nearly double the price of most competing products.

Apple also said it was making its virtual assistant Siri more aware of context, enabling it to recommend and remind users more accurately based on how they use their device.

Apple's Siri assistant will be integrated into the $349 speaker, and can make music recommendations that pair with the company's Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control compatible home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats.

In addition to playing music and performing other tasks, the rumored Apple's speaker will also be able to control appliances, locks, lights, and curtains through Siri voice commands.

Apple vice president Phil Schiller said the Siri team at Apple had tuned the assistant into a "musicologist" that learns the tastes of listeners and gets songs from the internet cloud. Considering all three smart speakers have similar functionality, it will be interesting to see if Apple's inclusive ecosystem will influence successful sales of the Cupertino company's newest device.

One was a new US$349 smart "HomePod" home speaker to 'reinvent ' home audio, which will be available in the United Kingdom and in the U.S. in December. Amazon's (AMZN) record-breaking Echo speaker, which it can't make fast enough, and Google's (GOOGL) Home speaker were top dogs in a new category.

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APPLE is launching its own 'smart speaker'called the HomePod.

The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released previous year, have helped plant the seeds for a promising market. 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 double its estimate from last year. United Kingdom and Australian prices are yet to be confirmed. Then, the user can request music or ask a number of questions. But the product seems directly inspired by existing smart speakers from Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) and Google (GOOGL, Tech30).

With a new watch face, Apple Watch promises to learn about your routines to figure out what information to display on the watch face.

In addition, the usual previews of the forthcoming Mac, iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV OS will also form part of the brand's presentations, as has been convention. The role of digital assistants in devices is likely to become increasingly important within driverless cars and as homes become more connected.

Aimed at high-end design professionals rather than the home market, the iMac Pro is to begin shipping in December with a starting price of $4,999.