Apple unveils VR features on Mac, new iPhone software

Calvin Saunders
June 7, 2017

The HomePod is set to go on sale in the second half of this year for US$349 (NZ$488).

The company is also launching new models of both the iPad and the Mac computer.

Apple kicked off its annual three-day developer conference in San Jose with a dystopian look at the future.

The tech firm also updated its Apple Pay system to enable users to directly pay other people using a text message as part of its iOS 11 upgrade. Chief among these new skills are new translation capabilities, more natural-sounding vocal tones and proactive "Siri Intelligence" that'll aim to provide you with content relevant to your interests before you even think to ask for it. Apple's navigation app is also getting an upgrade and will now be able to display floorplan-level maps within malls and airports for detailed navigation assistance.

It brings Apple into direct competition with such offerings as Amazon's Echo and Google's Home.

But while Amazon and Google have stressed the daily practicalities of the artificial intelligence assistants that run Echo and Home, Apple framed HomePod more as a music-listening platform, with practicalities like reminders and calendar nearly an after thought.

Apple is still expected to announce an Amazon rival: a Siri smart speaker. Daryanani said Apple may also announce an iPad Pro with a faster processor in an attempt to revive its long-slumping tablet sales.

Apple did not reveal a date for update but as said earlier it will be coming before the end of the year. Apple estimated that it now had 27 million paying subscribers with Apple Music.

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Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said the next Mac operating system will be named "High Sierra" in tribute to the California mountain range. Google, meanwhile, previewed new speaker features such as hands-free phone calling during its software conference last month.

Apple also unveiled new Macs, addressing complaints that Apple has let its Mac lineup languish in favour of its better-selling products, namely the iPhone. Luckily, they made a deal, and Amazon Video will finally be available to stream on Apple TV later this year. Another Safari feature will stop video from automatically playing on websites.

Aimed at high-end design professionals rather than the home market, the iMac Pro is to begin shipping in December with a starting price of $4,999.

Apple had plenty of other announcements. Although Apple Watch has emerged as the leader among smartwatches, it hasn't become a smash hit like the iPhone.

It starts shipping later this year in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia.

Siri's integration also turns the HomePod into a voice-controlled personal assistant. Apple's four software platforms - iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS - provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud.

Although it was first smartphone maker to come out with a digital assistant when Siri debuted in 2011, it hasn't had a stand-alone assistant.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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