Updated: Amazon’s video content — including original shows such as Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, and Man in the High Castle — will be available to Apple TV users later this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said today as he kicked off his company’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
The announcement represents a detente of sorts between the companies. A few years ago Amazon, which sells its Fire Stick to connect TVs to internet-delivered programming, stopped selling the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast.
This was one of several major product change announcements at the annual event.
They included the long-awaited introduction of a home speaker and digital assistant to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home. The new HomePod is a tabletop device that will work with the cloud-based Apple Music to “reinvent music in our homes,” the company says.
It will respond to voice commands, using Apple’s Siri system, and can provide news, sports, and other kinds of information. It also can adjust lights or appliances connected to Apple’s system.
But the company is promoting it as a music device. It boasts seven tweeters, a 4-inch woofer, and an Apple A8 chip that enables the device to adjust the audio to take advantage of the contours of, and its placement within, the room.
Apple will offer HomePod for $349 beginning in December. By contrast, the Amazon Echo costs $179 and Google Home is $129.
Apple is also unveiling updates to its watch operating system. They include the addition of Toy Story characters Woody, Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear as options for the the timepiece’s face. The OS also will enable users to monitor glucose levels and other health metrics.
Changes to the macOS — being renamed High Sierra from Sierra — will prevent videos that people encounter on the Safari web browser from automatically playing. In addition, a system that Apple calls Intelligent Tracking Prevention will stop companies from plastering their ads on various web sites people visit after they check out a product.
The upgrade which is supposed to also be much faster than the current version will be available for free this fall, the company says.
Apple’s iMacs will be souped up with Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors, which should be faster and more powerful. They’ll also see improvements to the graphics processors and displays on units that handle 4K video.
The changes should appeal to video creators, Industrial Light & Magic’s John Knoll told the San Jose gathering.
The new iMacs and Macbook Air will begin shipping today, the company says.
By year end Apple also plans to offer a new iMac Pro that will have workstation capabilities with an 8-Core Xeon Processor and options to go to 10 Core or 18 Core. The key to packing the performance into the unit is a new cooling system that Apple says is 80% more efficient than the current ones. A solid state hard drive can accommodate as much as 3 Tb of data.
Apple says that this will be useful for those developing 3-D and virtual reality. Starting price for the unit: $4,999.
In addition, Apple unveiled plans for its iOS 11. It will store most messages encrypted in the cloud, making it easier to synchronize across devices.
The company’s Apple Pay system that consumers can use to buy stuff now will accommodate person-to-person payments.
The Siri voice response system will sound more lifelike, and translate several languages. The company also says that it will be more sensitive to the context of a user’s question or information. For example, it can automatically offer directions to a scheduled appointment.
iOS 11 will also boost the quality of photos taken by mobile devices, and make them easier to edit.
A new “Do Not Disturb” function will determine when a user might be driving a car and turn off the screen — or limit messages to those that are truly urgent. Passengers can override the function.
Apple Music will offer additional playlists, including those based on tunes to which friends are listening.
In an announcement that should please the audience of developers, the company says that it will redesign its App Store for the first time since it was introduced. Changes include a tab with the day’s newest apps. There’ll also be a separate tab for games.
Another upgrade will make it easier to create augmented reality. In a demo, the company showed how someone could instantly place an image of a cup of coffee — or an elaborate battle scene — on a live camera image of a table. Shadows and dimensions making the video realistic automatically adjust as the device moves.
For the iPad, Apple will introduce a Pro model with a 10.5 inch screen at the same size and weight as the current one with a 9.7 inch screen. Upgrades will make images brighter and reduce reflectivity. They can be refreshed 120 times per second, up from the current standard of 60 times. That should make image changes more fluid. The rates can be reduced to improve battery life.
The 10.5 inch iPad Pro, with 64 GB of memory, will start at $649. One with a 12.9 inch screen, also with 64 GB, will start at $799. Apple plans to begin shipments next week.