Apple unveils an Amazon Echo competitor

  • Apple unveils an Amazon Echo competitor

Apple unveils an Amazon Echo competitor

Whether you care about a lot of them is not what I'm here to talk about, but I did want to at least highlight the HomePod, which is Apple's Google Home and Amazon Echo competitor. Apple's speaker will be launching in the USA, U.K., and Australia in December, with additional markets to come next year. Adding a smart speaker into people's homes creates a further touch point for consumers and a valuable gateway to Apple services.

Many found Amazon's Echo and Google's Home assistant creeped them out when they realised their voice interactions were being stored in the cloud.

John Knoll of Industrial Light & Magic, right, speaks about virtual reality during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, June 5, 2017.

Apple is also offering tools for app makers to embed artificial intelligence capabilities.

The seven-inch tall device works with Apple Music and has seven small "tweeter" speakers arranged in a ring around the bottom of the unit and a large 4-inch woofer in the middle. But while Siri improved incrementally, it was overtaken by rivals such as Google's Assistant, and faces competition from Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana too. Apple is also punching above its weight when it comes to searches: while Siri fields 2 billion requests per week, it's competing against Google, which, by the estimate of Danny Sullivan, who covers Google and search marketing, completes about 3.85 billion voice searches a day.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the USA market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home. So when it introduced new features for High Sierra's Safari that kill autoplay videos and stop cross-site tracking, it was for you (the customer).

The extensive range of updates are all due for release later this year.

Apple also unveiled a 10.5-inch iPad Pro and announced Apple Pay compatibility for Messages, meaning that it will be possible to send money to friends and family.

With inbuilt Siri, HomePod will also support AI features for news, traffic, sports, reminders, translation and weather information. Developers will get a new set of APIs (application programming interface) to be able to integrate these in their apps. It hailed this as a "major update" to the operating system that includes multi-tasking features and a Files app to make it easier to organise content.