The outside of San Jose McEnery Convention Center is seen before the start of Apple's World Wide Developers Conference in San Jose, California on June 5, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / Josh Edelson        (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Apple unveils smart speaker and operating system

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The outside of San Jose McEnery Convention Center is seen before the start of Apple's World Wide Developers Conference in San Jose, California on June 5, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / Josh Edelson        (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Apple has announced a new smart speaker device and a new iPad Pro, as well as upgrades to its mobile and desktop operating systems.

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is an annual event at which the Cupertino-based company showcases its new technologies.

The 2017 event opened on Monday and featured the company’s top executives making announcements about iPhones, MacBooks, and new Apple products.

This year’s conference follows the end of the iPhone’s 13 consecutive years of growing sales.

Apple is facing stiff competition in maintaining market share and is trying to find a means to continue to grow its consumer revenue.

The headline announcement was Apple’s new HomePod, a smart speaker which will be competing with the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Like those other products it is designed to be a digital home assistant, capable of answering questions about maths as well as music-related enquiries – but it comes with some Apple quirks.

Apple, as always, has stressed its commitment to customer privacy. The company has committed to marketing itself on these grounds.

This is something which it has been criticised for, especially following the San Bernadino shooting.

While the HomePod is always listening for the “Hey Siri” prompt, no information will be sent to Apple’s servers until that command is heard.

Information that is transmitted to Apple’s servers will be encrypted and sent using an anonymous Siri identifier.

Additionally, the speaker has a spatial awareness capability, allowing it to tune itself to best fill whatever kind of space it’s being used in.

It will cost $349 when it ships in December in the US, UK and Australia.

A new version of Apple’s iPad operating system, iOS 11, is the announcement which will have had the most effort ploughed into its development.

The new version of Apple’s mobile operating system has received a series of updates, including an update to Siri.

Siri now has better translation features, improved speech, as well as the ability to learn from user behaviour.

It also allows users to send and receive payments from contacts via iMessage.

This comes as competition increases, with devices such as Google’s Chromebook and Microsoft’s Surface eating into Apple’s tablet market share.

A new desktop and laptop operating system was also announced.

Dubbed High Sierra, Apple’s senior vice president of software, Craig Federighi, joked that when he raised the point that the name “might be miscontrued” the team assured him it was “fully baked”.

It will come with an upgraded version of the Safari web browser which will prevent videos from autoplaying and prevent users from being tracked across sites.

An updated file management system should make changing directories much safer and faster.

New photo editing tools, as well as filtering tools based on machine learning which can sort images by keywords and faces, will refresh the Photos app in High Sierra too.

The new iPad Pro will be available in three sizes, including a 10.5 inch model.

The new iPads will be available from next week, and include a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera as well as a 7-megapixel camera at the front of the device.

Their battery charge should last for 10 hours, and Apple has included a new technology it called ProMotion, which will deliver higher refresh rates for the display.

Apple’s “True Tone” display will dynamically adjust the white balance4 of the display to match the light around the user for a more natural viewing experience.

Source: Sky News

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