Apple Inc. on Monday unveiled a premium voice-activated speaker called HomePod and announced a series of upgrades to its line of Mac computers and iPads.
At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the tech giant also introduced a series of software updates, including payment-to-payment capabilities for Apple Pay and a platform for developers to design augmented-reality apps, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The HomePod speaker garnered much of the attention of the more-than-5,000 developers who attended the event in San Jose, California.
The speaker, which will cost US$349 and be available in December, is the third new product category Apple has entered since Chief Executive Tim Cook assumed leadership of thefirm in 2011, the Journal noted.
The Apple Watch, which launched in 2015, and AirPods, the wireless headphones introduced last September, were the other two product segments.
Apple is a late entrant to the rapidly growing speaker category. Amazon pioneered the category with its Echo device in 2014 and has sold an estimated 11 million speakers.
Alphabet Inc. followed with Google Home, a speaker introduced last year.
Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, will serve as the operating system for Apple’s speaker, playing requested songs and controlling home products like thermostats and lamps programmed to work with Apple devices.
The company said communication with the HomePod and Siri will be encrypted to protect user privacy.
Apple said it is updating its iPad Pro with a 10.5-inch Retina display and a refresh rate the company said is twice as fast, making videos smoother and crisper.
New software for the iPad will feature a dock at the bottom of the device, so that users can move in and out of apps more simply.
The company also said it is injecting more artificial intelligence into its Apple Watch, updating software to automatically surface information for users.
In other announcements, Apple said it is updating its entire line of MacBooks with Intel’s seventh-generation processors known as Kaby Lake.
It also said its new Mac High Sierra operating software offers new features for developers designing virtual reality games and experiences.
– Contact us at [email protected]