New iPhone feature to block texts while driving

To keep up with Amazon and Google, it is high time that Apple create a smart speaker. Both speakers can respond to voice requests for the news, weather and tasks such as turning on the lights.

Six microphones in the speaker's base - one less than the Echo but four more than the Home - let HomePod pick up your requests from across the room (even with loud music playing). Individual products like Nest's thermostats and Schlage's smart locks have real utility, but they're fussy, isolated devices, usually requiring that you dive into a specific app to fully control each gadget. "The AR kit will create a level of innovation within their software developer community that is going to result in an incredible amount of new apps". "It will reinvent home audio", boasted Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released previous year, were the first entrants in a promising market. The new MacBook Air models will also get a bump in processor speed.

While Apple is clearly maintaining its rivalry with Amazon, the companies also seemed to reach a sort of peace agreement when it came to Apple TV - a product that Amazon had previously pulled from its site.

And small changes matter for Apple because it has 500 million visits each week to the app storefront and significant revenue. Then in October 2016, Google unveiled its smart speaker, the Home. The speaker is similar to cheaper devices from Amazon and Google. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smartphones, he said.

Siri badly needed a major overhaul to stay relevant as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa leaped forward. (Many reviewers have suggested that the current incarnation of Apple's assistant already trails competitors in key respects.) "This is the start of the AI wars", he said.

Apple had plenty of other announcements. The MacBooks are likewise getting an upgrade to Kaby Lake, and will also get new SSDs that are 50 percent faster than the previous generation, the company said.

"It's all about keeping your eyes on the road", stated Apple's Craig Federighi.

New in iOS 11 for iPad is the Files app. It will not actually block ads, though. That's mostly because Apple's followed 2017's big tech trend and shaved down the bezel so it can cram a bigger screen into a frame that's nearly unchanged in size.

The latest rumour is that Apple will add user profiles to tvOS because this truly is a shared device, and this has led to more speculation that it might also (finally) bring them to iOS as well.

Apple also introduced to developers a new AR kit that it believes will make the company a leader in the augmented reality domain.

Ultimately, Apple wants to make these (and other) AI/ML capabilities easy to incorporate into new apps, and therefore introduced Core ML, which is a machine learning framework that app developers will be able to use to enhance other AI/ML capabilities in iOS 11. HomePod also has a 4-inch woofer that uses dynamic software modeling to eliminate distortion as the volume is cranked up.

The iOS 11 update is coming in the fall and there is an iOS 11 beta available today that you can install on a spare device to try out the new iOS 11 features early.

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