Apple Joins Smart-Speaker Race With Music-Focused 'HomePod'

Apple Joins Smart-Speaker Race With Music-Focused 'HomePod'

Today, the company revealed Metal 2, the new version of its hardware-accelerated graphics applications programming interface, which now offers native virtual reality support.

The Amazon Echo and Google Home are both smart assistants that happen to play music, but the HomePod's main calling is clearly to be the king of voice-controlled music.

CoreML also uses a machine learning model converter, which allows developers to take machine learning programs created in third-party frameworks like Caffe or Turi and execute them on-device in iOS, WatchOS and so on.

Yet Monday's announcement, rather than being routine, was the result of a negotiation stretching back at least to 2015 when Amazon stopped selling Apple TVs on its retail site.

Apple also unveiled a key content deal when Chief Executive Tim Cook said that Amazon Prime Video, long absent from the Apple TV product, would come to Apple devices such as the TV, iPhones and iPad later this year.

A new report claims that Samsung is working on a smart speaker that would directly compete with Google Home and Amazon's Echo devices. Siri can be activated using the command "Hey, Siri".

Apple senior vice-president Phil Schiller presents the Apple HomePod. Dubbed "HomePod" the new speaker appears to have a strong focus on music, with Apple touting it as a speaker to "reinvent home music" through features such as "Rock the house" sound, spatial awareness, and "Musicologist".

The speaker will sell for about $350 in December in the US, United Kingdom and Australia. Google followed with its Home speaker, featuring its plain-named Assistant, last year.

More 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, according the research firm eMarketer. It may not be first but Apple always does it better. In other words, Sonos is now an Apple competitor. While Siri was previously available on the Apple Watch, the assistant's ability to automatically show information was limited.

That is about to change, however, when the Homepod is set to hit the market in December. The company "can't afford to yield valuable real-estate in the heart of people's homes to Amazon, Google and others", said Geoff Blaber, research analyst at CCS Insight. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smartphones, he said.

"The new Apple ARKit will ease the transition for consumers into the more sophisticated aspects of AR by reaching millions of Apple users and getting them familiar with the technology", Goldman said.

Apple's Safari browser will soon be able to stop videos from auto-playing.

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