No Static At All

Well, let’s hope not anyway. Apple just introduced a smart home speaker known as HomePod at its World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC17) in San Jose.  My first impressions?  It’s pricey versus Amazon Echo or Google Home, but if your priority is, as Phil Schiller put it, to “rock the house” — and no arguments here — HomePod could be a contender.  HomePod is a 5-pound cylindar, slightly less than 6″ wide by 7″ tall, with a internal circular array of 6 microphones, 7 tweeters, and a motor-driven woofer.  It has Apple’s A8 processor on board for tasks such as audio beam forming, echo cancellation, and real-time modeling of the woofer mechanics and room acoustics, and of course Siri-related AI. Yes, it’s also a personal assistant. Apple also announced Airplay 2, an update to its music-over-WiFi protocol to support whole-home audio. I think maybe Sonos is the one who should be worried here. I’ll have to report back in December, after I’ve had a chance to hear it.

But I am intrigued, I must say.  🙂

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There were many other announcements at WWDC, updates to all operating systems, new iMacs, new iPads, an augmented reality demo. These are major take-aways for me:

  • macOS High Sierra will use Apple File System (APFS), a truly modern file system, putting HFS out to pasture.
  • A new 18-core iMac Pro is under development.  Thermal design was key.
  • The new 10.5″ iPad Pro is the size of the 9.7″ but with reduced bezels, confirming rumors.
  • iOS 11 is huge for the iPad Pro:
    • app dock
    • full drag and drop
    • sophisticated multitasking
    • a Files app with full third-party cloud support
  • Amazon Prime is coming to the Apple TV.
  • Native support for High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), aka H.265, across all operating systems, consistent with rumors of an upcoming 4k Apple TV.

Watch the keynote.

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