Apple to showcase new features for its gadgets

But what's so special about the speaker that Apple is naturally claiming will "reinvent home music"?

Siri will soon be front and centre on the Apple Watch, just like the Google Assistant has started showing up on Android Wear smartwatches.

"A big question mark for the new speaker, though, is whether Siri is good enough to power its own dedicated device". It will allow users to automatically block auto-play videos by detecting videos that shouldn't be playing when you open a webpage to read an article, for example. The current version is just Sierra.

But the company is also touting its intelligence (the HomePod is powered by an Apple A8 chip), as helping to boost audio performance compared to Sonos.

Voice assistants have already taken over homes with the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Microsoft's Cortana speakers.

A different reality: Apple is trying to make augmented reality a reality with new tools for iPhones and iPads.

Imagine what Apple could do if it didn't mind losing money on one product like a home speaker or from potential future products like an Apple vehicle or glasses that mix the virtual world with reality like the Pokemon Go game. Although Apple is late to the game, CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber says the new tools come "as the technology hits an inflection point". So far, interest in VR has been strongest among gamers, developers and hardware makers rather than everyday users.

Apple 'HomePod' speaker to take on Amazon, Google
The new iPad Pro will have a 10.5-inch screen, placing it between the current 9.7 and 13-inch screens of Apple's flagship tablet. It's part of Apple's effort to entice professionals with tablets that can handle many tasks previously reserved for laptops.


Apple's entry into the market could change this.

New iMacs unveiled Monday at Apple's annual conference for software programmers are getting better displays and graphics capabilities.

Taking direct aim at services like PayPal, Apple debuted peer-to-peer payments for Apple Pay in which users will be able to send money through the Messages app on iPhones. Yet it isn't as bulky as the 12.9-inch model. The previously available 9.7-inch Pro appears to have been put out to pasture, presumably to avoid confusion with the standard non-Pro iPad, which is the same size. The new iPad starts at $649 and will start shipping next week.

After all, the market for such devices is growing fast, and projected to keep expanding: in a report this month, research firm eMarketer predicted almost 36 million Americans will use a speaker-based voice-assistant each month this year, more than twice as many as a year ago.

Apple said it had updated the processors in its iMac and MacBook Pro lineup to Intel's most recent "Kaby Lake" processors.

For photos, Apple is replacing JPEGs with a new format meant to reduce file sizes. Although the format is not exclusive to Apple, it's not yet clear how well the photos will work with non-Apple software and devices, which mostly use JPEG. Investors keep close tabs on Apple's margins, and Apple optimises its business to meet its gross-margin range. And fortunately for Google and Amazon, Apple's Siri is widely seen as lagging the competition in both its quality and capabilities.

And Apple will have a new "do not disturb" mode for driving. The idea is to get outside software programmers geared up to write apps for Apple products.

  • Delia Davidson