Apple Offers New Hardware for app developers

Technology > IT

Apple Inc, For the first time in years, will use its annual developer conference for not just its software - but also hardware.

Technology enthusiasts and pundits are anticipating the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California to be the venue for Apple's unveiling of several of its new products -- both hardware and software, and even a juicy update on Siri, the iPhone's virtual assistant.

The last time Apple presented new updates was also at the same conference in 2013. 

For over a year, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has been showcasing the power of Apple's services businesses, like the App Store and iCloud storage.  With the device pipeline starting to fill up, Apple is highlighting hardware to attract the developers necessary to create accompanying apps.

Apple's debut of a smart speaker competitor to Amazon.com Inc's Echo and the Google Home at WWDC gives developers the resources to create apps for the device prior to its release. 

Brian Blau, an analyst at Gartner Inc., said: "They may not be able to put enough information into the developer community without showing them the hardware too...It will be part of a broader strategy that says these are devices that are interesting now and we need to let our customers know about them."

As far as Apple's competition in the smart speaks space is concerned, Amazon is practically not making any profit from selling the high-end US$179 Echo, which basically forces consumers to sign up for Amazon Prime and purchase other products.

Google Home sells for US$129 and is a gateway to Google's services like Search, YouTube Red music streaming, and Google's Calendar app.

The question remains: how much Apple will charge for its smart speaker? It could be a play to increase the profitable services business, which generated over US$24 billion - or 11 percent of total sales in 2016. 

WWDC covers other events, like the ones held by Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, where the software giants showcased their credentials in artificial intelligence and augmented reality. 

Apple has been creating its own dedicated processor for AI, according to someone familiar with the plan. Analysts predict Apple will display improvements to Siri and advances in AR technology as part of the iOS 11 mobile operating system. 

Apple's music guru Jimmy Lovine told Bloomberg in April 2017 that the updated operating system will possess the second reworking of the Apple Music streaming service in many years, and that Apple is planning at least 10 original television series by the end of 2017. 

Photo: Benjamin Balázs / Wikimedia Commons