New Smart Speaker Expected as Apple Kicks Off Worldwide Developers Conference

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The release date is December 2017 in the US, UK and Australia, which means it'll likely be here just right before Christmas - and it'll very likely be sold out everywhere. "HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a handsome speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion free music and be a helpful assistant around your home". It's the first time in 15 years that Apple has held its conference in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley.

New iMacs unveiled Monday at Apple's annual conference for software programmers are getting better displays and graphics capabilities.

While whispers of a touch-enabled Mac line that would open the door to more versatile Apple machines turned out to be baseless, Apple is significantly updating several of its existing products with modern components, as well as introducing a new turbo-charged iMac. Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for development virtual-reality "experiences".

Apple will be looking to the new product to help shore up falling iPhone revenues.

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"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. Facebook, HTC and Sony have high-end VR systems, too. These devices will only keep the most recent messages in local storage. Although the format is not exclusive to Apple, it's not yet clear how well the photos will work with non-Apple software and devices, which mostly use JPEG. "It will reinvent home audio", boasted Apple CEO Tim Cook.

On the software front, RBC Capital analyst Amit Daryanani expects the iOS 11 - the next operating system for Apple's iPhones and iPads - to get an overhaul that will accommodate the anticipated removal of the home button from the 10th anniversary model of the iPhone due out later this year. It also introduced autoplay blocking, which stops music and video from playing automatically without your permission on websites as well as "intelligent tracking prevention", which stops ads from following you around the web. But the company relented, and Apple's larger phones have become hot commodities as more people have embraced having a bigger display to look at pictures and watch video on the devices.

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. A new Siri watchface predicts what you'll want to see when you look at your wrist, while improvements to the device's fitness features will let you track new types of high-intensity workouts. It will also be possible to exchange data between gym equipment and the watch.

Anonymous sources told Bloomberg that the device will be deeply tied into Apple's ecosystem, presumably via integrations with Apple's other hardware devices, as well as apps and services like Apple Music, Apple HomeKit and Apple TV.

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