Apple to showcase new features for its gadgets

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Apple is entering the smart speaker space, and it's doing that with a new product launching this December called HomePod.

On paper, Apple's choice to present the HomePod a Sonos-esque high-end audio speaker that's powered by Siri compared to a Siri-powered home assistant is deliberate and a concession.

The price is quite a jump from Google's $129 Home and Amazon's $180 full-sized Echo.

The HomePod's cylindrical shape also reminded some people of another recently decomissioned Apple product. With the HomePod, it'll be "Hey Siri".

Apple Inc. on Monday unveiled a new home speaker system created to compete against rival products from Amazon.com and Google.

Apple has a short product video for its new product, available for viewing below.

Apple leaned heavily into the speaker's audio quality and specifications during its WWDC reveal. Google Home's assistant is able to access a user's search and location history and stores data on voice commands until it's been deleted. It also includes new technology like Apple's AirPlay 2 protocol, which allows multi-speaker support that will enable multiple HomePod devices to wirelessly communicate with each other.

"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.

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Apple had plenty of other announcements.

Among the new features of iOS 11 is the ability to make person-to-person payments through Apple's messaging app, thanks to new integration with the Apple Pay system. Although the format is not exclusive to Apple, it's not yet clear how well the photos will work with non-Apple software and devices, which mostly use JPEG.

Safari, Apple's web browser, is getting new features aimed at online annoyances. It will allow users to automatically block auto-play videos by detecting videos that shouldn't be playing when you open a webpage to read an article, for example. It will not block the ads themselves, though.

Apple also introduced a new version of its business-oriented iPad Pro at an intermediate size with more storage, a better display and an improved camera.

The tech giant announced the updated iMacs would have new, faster processors as well as "43% brighter" displays. It would mark an effort by Apple to catch up with Amazon and Google. Apple also laid some groundwork for augmented reality, the projection of digital features onto real-world surroundings, by giving app developers tools for incorporating AR into their products.

HomePod capped a keynote presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference that included updates to its iPad and Mac laptop lines, and upgraded operating software enabling augmented reality for iPhones and iPads.

Ortutay reported from NY.

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