Apple specified that HomePod’s Siri is laser-focused on music knowledge, adding nearly as an afterthought that it can also do things like control smarthome devices through HomeKit and check the weather. Both Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home have taken the markets by storm, but they have always been dogged with privacy concerns about who has access to users’ spoken data and search queries. By the same token, you can drive beefier speakers with a $50 Echo Dot, but Apple’s solution is less cluttered and it offers whole-home audio support.

Beyond just controlling music, you can control any “HomeKit” devices through HomePod – that means stuff like Phillips Hue lighting, Nest thermostats, and other smart devices.

Apple says it’s giving more emphasis to sound quality, not just smarts. Apple claims that the new iMac Pro is packed with enough hardware to make it the most powerful Mac computer to date.

Wireless speakers are a booming tech category at present and are seen as a gateway into turning our homes into “smart” homes. Two HomePods may be set up in the same room and they will automatically work together. Schiller talked up the HomePod’s “musicologist” features, which can answer requests like “Play something new”, “What was the top song in 1983?” and “Who’s the drummer in this?” Microsoft also has announced its own speaker with Samsung’s Harman business; it will use Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant. That’s a new focus for Apple as it competes with Google and Amazon.

Taking direct aim at services like those provided by PayPal Holdings Inc, Apple also debuted peer-to-peer payments for Apple Pay in which users will be able to send money through the Messages app on iPhones.

The Apple HomePod is a wireless speaker that promises to deliver fantastic audio quality. And for voice control, it houses a six-mic array, so the device can hear and understand your commands even from across a room.

Software updates are also expected for Apple’s smartwatch and TV box for streaming online video. The $349 price tag is a bit more expensive than comparably-sized internet-connected speakers, almost double the price of the Amazon Echo, and more than double the Google Home.

“We want powerful machine learning to be easier to use in your apps”, software chief Craig Federighi said as he unveiled a toolkit that allows developers to use Apple’s AI technology.

Mac OS High Sierra will launch this fall with faster performance, improved use of graphics processors, a new Apple File System with 64-bit advanced architecture for better security and responsiveness. Cook is aiming to double services revenue, which also includes products like iCloud and Apple Music, to around $50 billion by 2020.

The big question for Apple is how important the “platform” aspect of these smart speaker platforms turns out to be.

If anyone tries to contact the driver while their iPhone’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature is switched on, they will receive an automatic reply (which is customisable in the Settings menu) telling them the driver is busy.


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