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It's yet another category where Apple is a bit late to the party - Amazon's Echo and Alexa ecosystem has grown steadily over the past few years, and Google has also gotten a start with its Home speaker and Assistant.

By setting their sights on Sonos and focusing on premium Siri-powered smart speaker technology for music lovers, Apple is once again making their product stand out in an increasingly crowded market.

It is created to work with the Apple Music subscription service and can produce rich sound while tapping into the artificial intelligence power of Siri. Google Home followed in October and Microsoft's assistant, Cortana, is also finding a home in home speakers.

A set of iOS 11 features including enabling smartphone cameras to read QR codes are aimed at the China market, where Apple would like to bolster iPhone sales.

Apple saved its most anticipated WWDC announcement for the very end.

The sci-fi vision of a connected home is quickly becoming a reality: both Amazon and Google have launched smart assistants, with an Apple offering based on Siri is rumoured to be on the way.

This is a breaking news story, please refresh for updates. The company also refreshed the operating system on the Apple Watch - which will have more Siri integration - and the Apple TV, which will now work with Amazon Video.

Yet Apple wants to directly compete against the likes of Amazon's Echo and the Google Home, and has built its smart assistant Siri into the speaker.

Apple's annual conference for app developers begins Monday in San Jose, California. When away from home, HomePod is the flawless home hub, providing remote access and home automations through the Home app on iPhone or iPad.

Apple also unveiled new Macs, addressing complaints that Apple has let its Mac lineup languish in favor of its better-selling products, namely the iPhone.

HomePod users may initially be constrained by Siri's lack of capabilities as compared to Alexa, which also boasts the ability to order millions of Amazon products as well as food from restaurants like Domino's.

Apple earlier introduced a new version of its iPad Pro, as well as a raft of new software updates. Apple also unveiled the high-end iMac Pro coming in December starting at about $5,000.

Another watch face will feature Woody, Jessie and Buzz from "Toy Story", joining Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The HomePod wireless smart speaker is obviously compatible with all Apple HomeKit devices and provides seamless access to Apple Music.

Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, said on stage that the product has been in the works for "years".


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