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Artificial intelligence is software that enables machines act like humans in a more dynamic way. Pulling music from the Apple library, the speaker was presented as being able to recognize its placement and direct rich audio sound into the room.

Rather than exclusively competing with products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, Apple is positioning HomePod as a hybrid product that does more.

But while Amazon and Google have stressed the daily practicalities of the artificial intelligence assistants that run Echo and Home, Apple framed HomePod more as a music-listening platform, with practicalities like reminders and calendar nearly an after thought.

The Cupertino, California-based company said Siri, which also competes with Alphabet Inc's Google Assistant, will also now be able to create appointments on an iPhone after an appointment is booked on a Mac, for example, marking the first time that privacy-conscious Apple has let the assistant work across devices.

Apple has not confirmed the price of the HomePod for the UK. Leading up to it, Apple says those outside app developers have earned more than $70 billion since Apple's app store launched in 2008.

The company is casting Siri as a music connoisseur that will learn and cater to the tastes of the HomePod's owners, as well as answer questions about the songs as they are played. Amazon's very own Alexa, found in Echo devices and in some smartphones already, is one of those and the latest update to its software is a small but pretty important feature. While the updates are hitting US devices today, Amazon says it will be updating Alexa in Germany and in the United Kingdom to include these new features as well, though the updates for those regions will be "in the coming weeks".

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At about 7 inches tall, the HomePod is a bit squatter than the Amazon Echo, but roughly the same size as Google Home. Google followed with its Home speaker, featuring its plain-named Assistant, last year. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year. It unveiled the Apple Watch in September 2014. Here, Amazon has an early lead through its Echo speaker and Alexa assistant, which has developed an impressive range of skills and device and developer partners.

Google Home users, on the other hand, still only have the hope that this same feature is on its way. It also came following the when Amazon introduced its hottest devices powered by the Alexa assistant-the Echo Look and Echo Show.

Apple boss Tim Cook said the event was "the best and biggest WWDC ever".

Available in December, it won't be cheap-$349-but Apple boasts that it will have better audio than its competition.

McIlwain said he expects Apple to add new categories at next week's bash, but not almost enough to match Alexa's number of skills. Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for development virtual-reality "experiences". It will block videos that start playing automatically, for instance, and can also prevent ads from following and profiling users. It will not block the ads themselves, though.

Apple's strict adherence to profit goals can potentially hinder experiments and runs counter to efforts to pitch itself as more than a hardware company, even though Apple generates 88 percent of its annual sales from iPhones, computers, iPads, headphones and other hardware. The idea is to get outside software programmers geared up to write apps for Apple products.


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