Business Technology

Friday 21 July 2017

Apple launches speaker which aims to control home appliances and responds to voice commands

Tim Cook, CEO, speaks during Apple's annual world wide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California
Tim Cook, CEO, speaks during Apple's annual world wide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California

Adrian Weckler in San Jose

Apple has launched a new home speaker that aims to control the gadgets and home appliances throughout your house.

The tech giant unveiled its new seven-inch, compact HomePod at its Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California.

The speaker connects to home wifi and will be controlled by the human voice. It can also be used as a smart home hub and which responds to voice commands.

The new gadget will be a direct rival to both the Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers.

The new Apple HomePod speaker
The new Apple HomePod speaker

Wireless speakers are a booming tech category at present and are seen as a gateway into turning our homes into ‘smart’ homes. Everyday products such as light bulbs, heating systems and security alarms are increasingly being made to connect to the internet. Domestic appliances such as kettles, washing machines and fridges are also becoming wifi-connected.

However, In a reference to current tensions over privacy and terrorism, Apple says that the HomePod won't record anything until the term 'Hey Siri" is uttered. And all communications will be encrypted, meaning authorities can't try to tap home communications.

Read More: Five things to watch for at Apple's WWDC 2017

Apple also unveiled a new iPad and a new iMac at the conference.

The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is slightly bigger than the existing 9.7-inch iPad Pro and has a new high resolution screen that makes it easier to scroll and draw.

The new 27-inch iMac is called the iMac Pro and will be pitched at professional and work users. The iMac Pro has up to 128GB of Ram and up to 18 Intel Xeon Cores.

The company also updated its MacBook and iMac lines of computers with faster Intel Kaby Lake processors and power.

Read More: Ask Adrian: Our tech editor tackles your trickiest technology problems

Apple also revealed new safety systems for using iPhones within cars, featuring an enhanced 'do not disturb' function.

And it has rebuilt its camera software so that high resolution photos and videos taken on iPhones and iPads now take up only half the space on devices that they currently hog.

Elsewhere, Apple has expanded its Apple Pay system to its Messages app. The move means that people can now transfer money to one another using Apple Pay.

The company also announced that Amazon Prime, the rival movie streaming service to Netflix, will now be available on Apple TV boxes.

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