Apple aims to 'reinvent home music' with HomePod smart speaker

One of the most anticipated announcements expected from Apple was its Siri-powered home speaker, which the Cupertino-based giant finally unveiled towards the final moments of its WWDC 2017 keynote address.

Apple may be ready to catch up to Amazon's Echo and Google's Home speaker.

And, as you'd expect from a modern Apple product, Siri is baked into the device, turning the HomePod into a hub for information and a control device for IoT and home automation devices. The unit is powered by the same A8 processor as used by the iPhone 6, and will be available in Space Grey and White.

HomePod will go on sale in December in Australia, the United States and the UK and will cost American consumers $349 (A$465). By saying, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music become the flawless musicologist, learning preferences from hundreds of genres and moods, across tens of thousands of playlists, and these music tastes are shared across devices. So, you can ask Siri to turn on the lights, close the shades, or activate a scene that you've pre-set in the Home app. HomePod can even control these devices when you're not home via the Home app, giving you the power to remotely control your devices from anywhere.

But if it's real, the device is likely to be a small-ish speaker which plays music and responds to voice commands. That's probably not a surprise considering the way Apple talked about it on-stage - Phil Schiller referred to the machine more as a "breakthrough home speaker" rather than the avatar of a virtual assistant.

It has six microphones that are always listening for the trigger phrase "Hey, Siri". Even in the US, United Kingdom and Australia, that would appear to be later than would be ideal to catch the important holiday season. Recent offerings such as Google Home and Amazon Echo have not only provided stiff competition but, as the chart shows, are able to far more accurately answer questions. It's possible that Apple will add features to its operating system that would indicate what's next.

"The new Apple ARKit will ease the transition for consumers into the more sophisticated aspects of AR by reaching millions of Apple users and getting them familiar with the technology", Goldman said.

Apple has said that HomePod will adapt to the room, something we've seen from companies like Sonos, meaning that if you place it in a corner, the sound will adapt so that you get the most from it. Like Google Now, it works across the whole Google portfolio, including Android, ChromeOS and the new Google Home. Today, the company revealed Metal 2, the new version of its hardware-accelerated graphics applications programming interface, which now offers native virtual reality support. It's essentially a voice-operated digital assistant, but thanks to machine learning algorithms, it's created to get smarter the more you use it, adapting to your vocabulary, speech patterns, and usage habits.

Coming this autumn, iOS 11 brings a range of new features to iPhones and iPads, including a new Do Not Disturb mode to help drivers keep their attention on the road.

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