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Apple unveils next-gen Home and Siri features to give Alexa a run for its money

Updated Jun 7th, 2021 2:51PM EDT
Amazon Home Siri
Image: Apple Inc.

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For a second straight year, Apple’s big WWDC event happens online-only. Gatherings are still risky, and Apple announced months ago that the 2021 developer conference would be streamed online, free of charge, so all developers and fans can enjoy it as it happens. While it might not host any public during its press conferences, Apple had time to hone its skills at executing perfectly choreographed online events, and WWDC 2021 is already jam-packed with announcements.

Next up on Apple’s list of software novelties for 2021 is the big software update for the home. It’s not quite homeOS, as some rumors labeled it, but Apple is certainly looking to combine all its smart products for the home and its software solutions to smarten your home. And with its new home innovations for the Home and Siri, Apple is clearly going after Amazon’s Alexa.

Apple built an actual home set at Cupertino to demo the various smart home products, whether it’s the Apple TV and HomePod mini or third-party smart home devices.

Apple WWDC 2021
Apple’s new smart features for the home, introduced at WWDC 2021. Image source: Apple Inc.

One of the standout announcements at WWDC is Siri support for third-party devices that work with HomeKit, which will further improve the way users control the various digital aspects of their homes. Siri will also recognize the voices of different family members to offer them custom results, reminders, alarms, and other Siri-related actions.

Apple WWDC 2021
Siri will work with third-party devices that support HomeKit. Image source: Apple Inc.

Another significant new feature for the home is lossless audio support for Apple Music on the HomePod mini, which is coming later this year.

Apple WWDC 2021
HomePod Mini launching in additional markets. Image source: Apple Inc.

The smart speaker will launch in additional markets soon, including Austria, Ireland, and New Zealand. Apple’s smart speakers can be paired with the Apple TV, and Siri can be used to control the TV via the speaker.

Apple WWDC 2021
Apple’s HomePod mini can be paired with Apple TV. Image source: Apple Inc.

The Apple Watch can be used to control your smart home, including sending messages via a new intercom feature and checking out the video doorbells. All of it happens via a brand new Home app that will be available on the wearable.

Apple WWDC 2021
Controlling smart home gadgets from the Apple Watch. Image source: Apple Inc.

Apple confirmed during the home segment the new Matter alliance, a new standard for smart home products that includes Apple, Amazon, and Google.

Apple WWDC 2021
Apple confirmed the new Matter alliance standard. Image source: Apple Inc.

The Share TV feature will work on Apple TV at home, Apple explained. And Siri on Apple TV will provide suggestions for the entire family based on everyone’s Apple TV profiles, which could make watching shows together even easier.

Apple WWDC 2021
Siri will show suggestions on Apple TV based on all the available Apple TV profiles.

The new Home key functionality announced for Wallet on iOS 15 will also work with the smart home experience that Apple has in mind.

Apple WWDC 2021
New Smart key functionality coming to Wallet in iOS 15. Image source: Apple Inc.
Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.