Published: Wed, June 07, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

Apple AirPlay 2 adds whole-home audio for speakers

Many found Amazon's Echo and Google's Home assistant creeped them out when they realised their voice interactions were being stored in the cloud.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the Apple Watch announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, June 5, 2017.

The HomePod will be just under 7in high and houses the company's virtual assistant, Siri.

Apple has not confirmed the price of the HomePod for the UK. A computer processor will tune sound to the room and beam specific parts of music, like a singer's voice, toward the listener.

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.

Apple is also updating the operating software for its Apple Watch, including new watch faces, more personalized alerts that use machine learning to tailor information to you based on your routines and tastes.

Apple noted the growing popularity of wireless home audio and smart speakers, but made the point that current offerings are lacking.

Apple is also bringing the ability to pay back a friend or other individual through its payment service, Apple Pay.

In addition, the speaker also includes a six-microphone array with advanced echo cancellation for Siri voice control and home assistant functions, allowing users to ask questions and access podcasts, news, weather, traffic, sports, reminders, timers, messages, and more. Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for developing virtual-reality "experiences", although the company didn't announce any consumer VR products.

The HomePod is Apple's first new gadget in almost three years, following its announcement of the Apple Watch in September 2014. However, if its audio capabilities are as good as Apple claims, it could be inviting for iPhone and iPad owners looking for a single do-everything speaker for their home or apartment. It would mark an effort by Apple to catch up with Amazon and Google.

The latest version of Apple's Safari browser will be able to stop automatically playing videos as well as online trackers used for advertisers. Models will be available in white and space gray. They've all raised privacy issues of their own, but Apple adds some scale to the concerns.

This feature enabled users to enter their account credentials for these services in the Settings app and then use those credentials to log into other third-party apps and services. Before, transactions had been limited to products and services from businesses and institutions.

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