Apple pushes Siri to the fore at annual developer conference

First there was Amazon's Echo, introduced to the public in 2014.

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.

Apple is expected to announce plans this week to make its Siri voice assistant work with a larger variety of apps, but initial changes were expected to add just a small number of capabilities.

Homepod also has a Musicologist feature which works with Apple Music so you can stream your favourite tunes and if you aren't sure what you're listening to you, Siri is an utterance away from helping you. Being christened as the "HomePod", this new product is claimed to reinvent music in home, according to the Cupertino giant.

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Alexa and Assistant are the digital voice assistants of Amazon and Google, respectively.

Microsoft and Harman Kardon, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, are slated to release a voice-enabled speaker that plays music and handles everyday lifestyle tasks like managing calendars and checking for traffic this fall. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year. If that were the case, Apple could have used Monday's announcement - at an event expressly for developers - to offer a way to code deeper, more valuable interactions with Siri. HomePod is shipping later this year - it's not quite ready for prime time.

It remains to be seen how (or if) third-party developers like government agencies will be able to integrate service delivery into this new experience - but it does provide another example of the growing trend toward predictive information delivery.

HomePod is a seven-inch-tall speaker that has Apple's digital assistant built in. Apple wants to deliver its smart assistant to your home, but it doesn't really want to make a big show of it. Along with playing music content, the unit will also send texts and control home gadgets.

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Speakers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and so do most of Apple's products, so it seems reasonable to expect the HomePod line to grow and evolve over time. For instance, Apple initially resisted enlarging the size of iPhone's screen despite strong sales for larger-display phones made by Samsung and other rivals. Apple said that it believes this computer can compete with similar configurations that it says could cost as much as $7,000.

A new Siri interface on the Apple Watch will also blend users' calendar information with other useful details, like airline tickets they may have booked, the company said.

The lack of a breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone and supported the theory that the company lost its knack for innovation when its co-founder Steve Jobs died of cancer in 2011. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. The next iOS may also have new features designed for artificial intelligence, the application of computers that learn and understand things like humans.

Acoustics aside, there are also rumblings that Apple's rumored Siri speaker will include a touchscreen of some sort. Software updates are also expected for Apple's smartwatch and TV box for streaming online video. Specifically, Apple's offering is said to utilize Beats audio technology with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo offering up the following prediction last month.

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