Apple unveils 'HomePod' speaker, first new product in years

Chief executive Tim Cook made the HomePod announcement at the end of his keynote address to 5300 hyped-up developers and scores of worldwide media at the tech giant's annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) conference in San Jose.

"We really believe it is going to take your home music experience to the next level", Apple chief executive Tim Cook said as he unveiled it.

Apple is expected to unveil an artificially intelligent smart speaker to rival the Amazon Echo and Google Home later today. It's powered by Apple Music, Apple's subscription music service, and connects directly.

The Apple HomePod is a smart speaker that features integration with Apple Music and Siri.

The new smart speaker comes with a seven-speaker array of tweeters along with a four-inch upward facing subwoofer.

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AR is where New Zealand featured, with creative director Alasdair Coull from Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh's year-old augmented reality division, WingNutAR, appearing on stage.

"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. The device will compete with Amazon's Alexa and Google Home, and is scheduled to be released later this year, the company said. And it would mark an effort by Apple to catch up with Amazon and Google.

And speaking of driving, Apple is also adding a "do not disturb" feature for when you're in your auto, keeping you focused on the road. Siri was introduced as a feature in the iPhone 4S in 2011, three years before Amazon came out with Alexa and the Echo.

Apple is officially jumping into the home speaker market.

The device would be used to control internet-enabled products around home, as well as answer queries and provide news, weather and schedule updates.

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Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said the next Mac operating system will be named "High Sierra" in tribute to the California mountain range.

High Sierra will be released later this year as a free update, according to Federighi.

Aside from the new speaker, Apple also took the opportunity to announce new iPad Pros, an iMac Pro and iMac updates.

Apple also launched a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro and a 12.9-inch iPad Pro feature the world's most advanced display with ProMotion technology and incredible performance with the new A10X Fusion chip.

Apple told the developers they were overhauling the App Store, giving it a fresh look, and beginning to add the floor plans of shops and airports to its map program.

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With the next version of the iOS system for mobile devices, messages will sync in the cloud. It might seem surprising to see Cook market the video shows like The Mozart in the Jungle, Falling Water, and other Amazon exclusive productions but the change has finally happened.

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