Apple debuts HomePod speaker to bring Siri into the living room

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The new software toolset promises to make augmented reality experiences on the iPhone easier to create and share.

The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released past year, were the first entrants in a promising market. The move means that people can now transfer money to one another using Apple Pay. Both speakers can respond to voice requests for the news, weather and tasks such as turning on the lights. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year. The new Echo Show goes on sale on June 28 for $230.

This new suite of functionalities provides an opportunity for government agencies with iOS apps to explore additional ways to increase the effectiveness of how services are delivered on mobile. Microsoft also has announced its own speaker with Samsung's Harman business; it will use Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant.

Apple's Siri assistant will be integrated into the $349 speaker, and can make music recommendations that pair with the company's Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control compatible home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats.

Those not in the driver seat can also tell their phone they aren't driving, allowing passengers to use their phones normally.

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Still, the Apple Watch hasn't been a smash hit, fueling worries that the company's ability to transfix customers had waned after the 2011 death of co-founder Steve Jobs.

New features coming to iPhones and iPads, meanwhile, include marginal improvements such as syncing messages to Apple servers in the cloud, saving storage space on phones and tablets. Also, if you delete one message from your Apple device, it will be deleted from other existing devices as well. iMessage apps, which was introduced in iOS 10 will have a more organized format now.

A new Siri interface on the Apple Watch will also blend users' calendar information with other useful details, like airline tickets they may have booked, the company said.

Apple also may introduce its next Mac computer, along with the next operating system powering the machine. In terms of software, the highly awaited iOS 11 was announced with its developer preview released, while the public beta set to release later this month. iOS 11 will be released this fall as a free update for iPhone 5s and later, all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation, iPad mini 2 and later and the iPod touch 6th generation. But, this minor update making the iPhone so much more user-friendly looks like something Apple would do, and the same will not be more complicated than this.

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