Apple kicks off event with virtual reality, browser privacy

  • Apple kicks off event with virtual reality, browser privacy

Apple kicks off event with virtual reality, browser privacy

Apple said the speaker sound from the HomePod is of high quality and is also able to create virtual surround sound.

It might be a year or two late, but it isn't a dollar short. 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. The Apple HomePod is a seven-inch cylindrical speaker-it actually looks a lot like a cloth-covered Mac Pro-and Apple claims setting one up is just as easy as using AirPods, too. The Echo costs $180, the Home $110.

At just under 7 inches tall, HomePod can be placed nearly anywhere in the home and is available in white and space gray. "[And] You can even ask more complex, music-related questions like 'Who's the drummer in this song?' or 'What album came out on this day 20 years ago?'"

But while Amazon and Google have stressed the daily practicalities of the artificial intelligence assistants that run Echo and Home, Apple framed HomePod more as a music-listening platform, with practicalities like reminders and calendar nearly an after thought. The speaker is similar to cheaper devices from Amazon and Google.

When plugged in, the speaker detects the shape of the room it's in and uses the information to intelligently shape the sound.

The speaker, while expected by some industry watchers, marked Apple's first new product announcement since the Apple Watch in September 2014. If the speculation pans out, the speaker would be Apple's first new product since its smartwatch in 2015. 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.

At the event, a parade of executives unveiled updates to Apple's hardware, software and mobile applications, or apps, including iMac desktop computer, MacBook laptop machine, iPad, Apple Watch, iOS software operating system and App Store. (Many reviewers have suggested that the current incarnation of Apple's assistant already trails competitors in key respects.) "This is the start of the AI wars", he said. In the comedy spectrum, there are also shows such as Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, Red Oaks, One Mississippi, and I Love Dick. It also combats the competitive threat from Google's and Amazon's connected speakers: Those don't support Apple services like Apple Music, which brings in US$10 in revenue per user each month.

So far, data stored on Amazon's servers is not anonymized. That could help assuage customers' fears, provided Apple succeeds in explaining to them what it means. It knows marketing. Increasingly, it knows privacy. It contains numerous same capabilities of those assistant-equipped speakers, but adds one more thing: high quality audio. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has previously said that his company and Cook's couldn't agree on "acceptable business terms" for it to put its video-streaming service app on Apple TV.