Blast and Megablast bring Alexa to UE’s portable speakers

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With Alexa baked in, UE's new Blast speaker will be right at home in the kitchen.
With Alexa baked in, UE's new Blast speaker will be right at home in the kitchen.
Photo: Ultimate Ears

SAN FRANCISCO — Ultimate Ears’ punchy portable speakers just got smart. The new Blast and Megablast speakers bring built-in support for Alexa, Amazon’s voice-operated smart assistant.

Bringing the always-listening, voice-operated helper to a battery-powered speaker proved “nontrivial,” said Benjamin Falk, principal software product manager at UE, during a demo of the new speakers.

Smart speakers could invade homes faster than any other gadget

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Apple's new HomePod smart speaker is ready to rock your house.
Smart speakers could be fastest consumer device ever to hit 50 percent adoption.
Photo: Apple

Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and forthcoming Apple HomePod could become the fastest consumer device in history to hit 50 percent adoption levels, claims Activate CEO Michael J. Wolf.

For those keeping track at home, that’s faster than smartphones, television, cars, the internet, and personal computers.

Sonos speakers will support AirPlay 2 next year

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Sonos supports AirPlay2
The Sonos One smart speaker will support Apple's AirPlay2.
Photo: Sonos

Sonos’ new voice-activated Sonos One smart speaker will work with Amazon’s Alexa assistant when it ships later this month, and will add support for Apple’s new AirPlay 2 streaming protocol next year.

The new smart speaker, which will ship Oct. 24, places an emphasis on high-end audio. With its $199 price point and promised compatibility with multiple platforms, it should put pressure on Apple’s upcoming HomePod, which costs nearly twice as much.

Watch Google unveil its new iPhone rivals right here

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Pixel 2 XL
Google's new Pixel 2 XL will be made official today.
Photo: Evan Blass

Google’s popular Pixel smartphones turn 1 today. To celebrate the birthday, the company plans to unveil two new models that will compete with iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will be confirmed during a special event that kicks off at 9 a.m. Pacific today. You can watch the whole thing live right here.

What happened to HomePod at yesterday’s iPhone X event?

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New HomePod
HomePod is already being tested in some homes.
Photo: Themrlinc/Instagram CC

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker was nowhere to be found at Apple’s iPhone X event yesterday. While Apple lavished its attention on Apple TV 4K, the new Apple Watch, and, of course, its next-gen iPhones, the smart speaker it unveiled at WWDC didn’t even get a mention.

For anyone excited about Apple’s rival to Google Home and Amazon Echo, that’s either a very good thing or a very bad thing. Here’s why:

Everything we expect Apple to unveil at its September 12 event

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Tim Cook was short on surprises at the 'Hello Again' keynote.
What will Tim surprise us with this time?
Photo: Apple

The biggest Apple keynote of 2017 is just a few short hours away. And according to the rumors, its going to be one of the most memorable tech events in years.

When Tim Cook and Co. take the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater on September 12, we expect them to unveil not one, not two, but three new iPhones. A bunch of other new hardware and software is also on the docket, making this an Apple keynote not to be missed.

Here’s everything Apple will likely reveal.

iOS 11 GM leak reveals new details about next iPhones [Updated]

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Another apparent leak from Apple serves up more details about the upcoming products, including this swirly new iPhone wallpaper leaked
Another apparent Apple leak serves up more details about upcoming products, including this swirly new iPhone wallpaper.
Photo illustration: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

This post has been updated to include the latest info from the massive iOS 11 golden master leak.

Apple looks leakier than the White House these days. The latest unauthorized dump of info about upcoming Apple products comes in the form of a leaked golden master version of iOS 11.

Obtained late Friday by tech publications, the prematurely released final version of Apple’s mobile operating system reveals details about everything from the upcoming iPhones’ model names to dazzling new iOS wallpapers and details about the next Apple Watch.

Spoiler alert: If you want any surprises at all during next Tuesday’s Apple event, stop reading now.

Some lucky folks already have their own HomePods

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New HomePod
Yep, consider us jealous!
Photo: Themrlinc/Instagram CC

The HomePod won’t ship until later this year, but two posts on social media show that people working on the device are already testing them in their homes.

One Twitter user has shared an image taken in Menlo Park, CA, depicting a Control Center screen, complete with HomePod icon. Another user, this time on Instagram, posted a black and white photo of a HomePod in what looks like his or her kitchen in Shanghai, China.

Apple will use another novel pairing method for HomePod

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Phil Schiller gives the world a sneak peek at the HomePod during WWDC 2017.
This is how you'll pair HomePod with your iPhone.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker will pair with other devices by generating a special tone that can be detected by your iPhone or iPad.

The tidbit was discovered by developer Guilherme Rambo over the weekend, hidden in Apple’s latest iOS 11 beta release.