Apple unveils an Amazon Echo competitor

Credit CC0 Public Domain

After "reinventing" the watch, Apple is now looking to change the home speaker game after revealing "HomePod" - its new Siri-powered wireless speaker - at its Worldwide Developer Conference today.

Claiming that it will do to your home what the iPod did to portable music Apple is pushing this as the first premium speaker that combines intelligence with wonderful sound quality.

Positioning the HomePod as a music-focused smart speaker is no surprise, as Apple knows one thing or two about music indeed. Apple said the same chip used in the iPhone will power the speaker. You may get your hands on this for $349 which roughly translates to Rs 22,500. "HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a lovely speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion-free music and be a helpful assistant around your home". In-fact, according to the company, users can even ask Siri who is the drummer of a particular song, and it would be able to pull up answers 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.

While Apple may hope that people buy into the idea of HomePod serving a different, more musical objective than its Amazon and Google rivals, people really like using their speakers for services beyond listening to music.

The HomePod marks a fightback against Amazon's Echo, the voice-controlled Wi-Fi speaker that has been a surprise hit and put rivals such as Apple and Google on the back foot.

But Apple is late to the game on VR. Expect the HomePod to ship this December, presumably just in time for last-minute Christmas buying. Developers will keep an eye out for hints about new capabilities in the next iPhone, such as so-called augmented reality, in which digital information is overlaid on real-world images.

Amazon's $179.99 Echo device offers tight integration with Amazon services like shopping and audiobooks, in addition to integrations with services such as Nest, Uber, Fitbit, Domino's and Pandora. It is safe to say that HomePod is a modified and upgraded version of the iPod, which was mostly marketed to cater to the demand for portable music devices.

Amazon and Google are early movers in this market.

Apple is also bringing the ability to send money to friends or other people through its payment service, Apple Pay.



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