For fans of the Apple universe the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose California is one of the highlights of the tech year - all the shiny new must-have gadgets and next-gen updates are launched and so far, the conference this year has been huge. First up the announcement of Apple's new HomePod - a slick, Apple-fied home smart speaker set to take on the super popular smart surround sound offerings from Amazon (Amazon Echo) and Google (Google Home).

Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing said in a statement, "Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes... HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a beautiful speaker that is less than 18 centimetres tall, can rock most any room with distortion-free music and be a helpful assistant around your home."

Apple HomePod. Image: Apple

Major features of the HomePod include asking Siri to name, say, the bass player on a track, telling Siri you like a certain song, which builds your profile and helps HomePod suggest songs and play your favourites. The HomePod can access the entire Apple Music catalogue of over 40 million songs and is like a helpful butler, sending messages, giving news updates or controlling smart home devices (you can ask Siri to turn the lights off/on etc). The HomePod is compatible with iPhone 5s and up running iOS 11 and will be available in Australia in December this year for around $463 AUD ($349 USD).

The second reveal is the new iOS11. The new operating system is expected to roll out in September and is stacked with a slew of cool new features, including: message app syncs across multiple devices; Siri will offer multiple results for queries and real-time translations in Chinese, French, German, Italian and Spanish; Maps App will work inside shopping malls and at airports; when driving it will offer lane guidance and there's a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature which will automatically silence notifications when you're on the road.

Image: Apple

The third important update is which devices the iOS 11 will work on. It'll be compatible with iPad Air, iPad Pro, iPad 5 and up, iPad mini 2 and later, iPod touch 6 and the iPhone 5S and up. Which means... if you have an iPhone 5 or 5C or the iPad 4 the new iOS won't work - so no more software updates, bug fixes, security fixes and you won't be able to connect to the HomePod should you go for their smart speaker system. Time to upgrade your iPhone?

3 essential takeaways from Apple’s annual conference