New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Apple WWDC 2017 HomePod

Apple is hoping a new smart home speaker will strike a chord with music lovers - the latest test of the iPhone maker's ability to redefine markets originally staked out by its rivals.

CNET senior editor Ashley Esqueda joined CBSN from Burbank to discuss highlights from the first day of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. As a music-playing device, it will also be a challenger to Sonos, whose wifi-controlled speakers are used by many smartphone users for home entertainment.

The company is reportedly working on a home speaker powered by Siri that could be unveiled during the conference, which would be a rarity for an event that traditionally features software and minor updates to hardware such as its Mac laptops.

While Cook told Bloomberg that Apple (aapl) won't modify its encryption to make it easier for law enforcement to access data, he said his company can still furnish information that can help law enforcement find suspects. Apple didn't mention differential privacy this year, but they did highlight that by doing a lot of this AI/machine learning work on the device, they can keep people's information local and not have to send it up to large cloud-based datacenters. HomePod combines Apple-engineered audio technology and advanced software to deliver the highest-fidelity sound throughout the room, no matter where it's placed. Ask her to play something new or play more like what you're listening to, and Siri will happily oblige. Either way, we won't know for sure until the HomePod launches in December. Yet Apple gadgets tend to function best within the Apple ecosystem, and Apple was quiet about whether or not the HomePod would work with third-party apps like the Echo does. Yes, some songs may sound pleasing, but for true audiophiles who actually want to hear what the artist and producer intended, Apple's positioning of the HomePod as super high-quality speaker is going to be a very tough sell.

The new Apple HomePod appears to be the technology company's own version of Amazon Echo and Google Home, with similar voice assistant features to Amazon's Alexa.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the USA market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home.

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The HomePod's main weapon is sound quality.

Apple said it had updated the processors in its iMac and MacBook Pro lineup to Intel's most recent "Kaby Lake" processors. It says the HomePod uses an Apple Music subscription for "deep knowledge of personal music preferences".

The top of the HomePod includes integrated touch controls and also shows the Siri waveform when voice-control is active.

So, one last thing you're probably wondering about is how much will this smart speaker cost?

Apple is introducing an iPad Pro in a new size in an attempt to revive interest in its once hot-selling line of tablets.

iOS 11 features a swag of iPad only features, including a new Files app, a new dock, and new drag-and-drop features to enable better multitasking and sharing between apps.

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