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Apple pushes Siri to the fore at annual developer conference


Apple Inc on Monday rolled out new Siri capabilities to better integrate the voice-activated assistant across devices, a move that comes as the service faces stiff competition from rival offerings like Amazon.com Inc’s Alexa.
Analysts and investors were watching Apple’s annual developers conference for signs of what the company’s next blockbuster product might be a decade after the introduction of its iPhone.
Apple said Siri, which also competes with the Google Assistant helper, will now be able to create appointments on an iPhone after an appointment is booked on a Mac, for example, marking the first time that privacy-conscious Apple has let the assistant work across devices.
« You’re dealing with one Siri,  » said Apple software chief Craig Federighi. « But of course this is kept completely private, readable only by you and your devices. »
The company is reportedly working on a home speaker powered by Siri that could be unveiled during the conference, which would be a rarity for an event that traditionally features software and minor updates to hardware such as its Mac laptops.
Apple offered some hints about new capabilities in the next iPhone, including about so-called augmented reality, in which digital information is overlaid on real-world images.
New indoor maps of areas like malls and airports indicated that Apple might be laying groundwork to display information over images of those places in the future.
The company rolled out new tools for developers to create augmented reality applications for iPhones and iPads. To show the tools off, Apple invited Wingnut AR, the company formed by « Lord of the Rings » director Peter Jackson, on stage.
Taking direct aim at services like PayPal, Apple debuted peer-to-peer payments for Apple Pay in which users will be able to send money through the Messages app on iPhones. That money can immediately be used in retail stores that take Apple Pay or can be moved to a bank account.
Apple also unveiled a key content deal when Chief Executive Tim Cook said that content from Amazon Prime Video, long absent from the Apple TV product, would come to Apple devices such as the TV, iPhones and iPad later this year.
The company introduced iOS 11, the next version of the software that powers the iPhone and iPad.
It also debuted the iMac Pro, designed to be its flagship desktop machine. Starting at $4,999, it includes up to an 18-core Intel Corp processor and an Advanced Micro Devices Inc graphics chip.
Apple said it had updated the processors in its iMac and MacBook Pro lineup to Intel’s most recent « Kaby Lake » processors.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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