This Is the HomePod, Apple's New Home Speaker and Amazon Echo Competitor

Similar to Amazon's Echo and Google's Home - voice-activated, internet-connected speakers that play music, answer questions and provide information such as the news, weather, sports updates and metric conversions - the HomePod listens and responds to voice commands.

What's interesting about Apple's approach here is that the company has positioned HomePod as a music device first and foremost, a big contrast to the approach of Google which touted its Home speaker as a day-to-day assistant for many aspects of your life. Whereas the Echo and Home are pitched as entry points for a whole ecosystem of artificially intelligent, voice-powered services and devices, the HomePod is being pitched as a high-quality music player that happens to be integrated with Apple's Siri voice assistant.

As were the rumors suggesting, Apple was going to launch a Wi-Fi speaker and the company did that at the WWDC 2017 keynote.

During today's presentation, Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, said that while other companies have been working on their own home speaker devices, "none of them have quite nailed it yet". Apple say it will launch at a price of $349 (roughly £270) in the USA, with official pricing for Australia and the United Kingdom will be released later this year.

If Apple can outmatch the latter on sound, while providing enough smarts to compete with the former, the HomePod might have the makings of a good buy.

The HomePod speaker stands just under seven inches (18 cm) tall and is covered in fabric mesh that will come in white or gray.

Apple says it's giving more emphasis to sound quality, not just smarts.

The company is once again banking on its reputation as a creator of intuitive, luxury products that justify a hefty price tag. It also (like every AI Speaker out there) boasts of a touchscreen upper-surface that can be used to trigger Siri.

The HomePod is designed specifically with Apple Music in mind, so it can offer you suggestions based on your music tastes to help you discover new artists. This overall adoption is still tiny compared to, say, the number of people using smartphones every month, but growing faster.

Apple HomePod comes at $349 (Rs 22,440 approx.) and will start shipping in the US, UK and Australia starting December this year. HomePod, Apple Music and Siri deliver the best music experience in the home that streams ad-free directly to HomePod. If you're into tablets, Apple has something for you.

Amazon's Echo commands 70.6 percent of the US market and Google Home has 23.8 percent, according to a recent eMarketer report.

The company also unveiled new iMacs for software programmers with better displays and graphics capabilities. It would be Apple's first new product since its smartwatch in 2015.

It feels even odder to write this: Highly profitable Apple should try to become a little more like profit-challenged Amazon in the financial strategy behind its hardware business.

During Monday's event Apple also introduced updates and improvements to its professional line of Mac laptops and desktops, and iPads.



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