The two most impressive new products unveiled this week, the HomePod and iMac Pro, are a testament to that fact and proof the company, though lacking a truly visionary product since the dawn of the iPhone, still knows how to make lovely consumer technology.
The issue isn't whether the new all-in-one is powerful, or whether Apple is properly catering to professional users with it's internal components; the company's landing page for the new device, filled with technical jargon that only people who know what a teraflop is will care about, is proof enough of that. That woofer plus an advanced algorithm that continuously analyzes the music and dynamically helps tunes the lower end frequencies that typically result in choppy, muddy noise, makes the new HomePod a speaker to rule them all.
Apple said on Monday that HomePod would cost $349.
Both Apple and Google have technological expertise which can allow their intelligent home speakers to compete strongly with Amazon. Probably sensibly, Apple executives spent far less time trumpeting how HomePod will work with Siri, which is still too dumb for all but basic functions like setting reminders.
"Most smart speakers you see today are really AI helpers first and foremost", an Engadget post explained. It unveiled the Apple Watch in September 2014.
There were also a couple of updates to Apple's web browser, Safari, including a speed boost that makes it, according to Apple, the fastest ever desktop browser. To use the hands-free device, you speak a trigger phrase - "Hey Siri", "OK Google", "Alexa" - and then ask a question such as "what's the weather?" or make a request like "order a Lyft". Google and Amazon have been saturating the market for a while now and figuring out the whole home assistant niche. However, Siri has been slow to improve its voice-recognition technology and set of responses, especially compared with the more capable Alexa and Google Assistant. (Many reviewers have suggested that the current incarnation of Apple's assistant already trails competitors in key respects.) "This is the start of the AI wars", he said.
Apple hasn't announced an exact date for the release of the HomePod. Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jackdaw Research, says the price is good for a high-end audio device.
And Apple will have a new "do not disturb" mode for driving.
Apple also announced that watchOS 4, the next version of its smartwatch platform, will be arriving in September. It will not actually block ads, though.
The hardware debut, a rarity at the annual developers conference that traditionally features software and only minor hardware updates, came as analysts and investors watch for signs of the world's largest publicly traded company's next blockbuster product a decade after the introduction of the iPhone. It's unclear what happens to the data once its on Apple's servers.