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

Posted June 09, 2017

Apple on Monday announced the HomePod, its long-anticipated answer to Amazon's Echo and Google's Home.

Apple certainly has some catching up to do: An eMarketer forecast last month predicted that Amazon is expected to command roughly 70 percent of the smart speaker market share this year, with Google Home taking much of the rest of the market.

The HomePod, to be launched later this year, has six microphones built into it and is powered by Apple's smart assistant Siri. The "breakthrough home speaker", which appears to prioritize high-fidelity music playback over other functions, will set you back $350 when it ships in December. By saying, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music become the ideal musicologist, learning preferences from hundreds of genres and moods, across tens of thousands of playlists, and these music tastes are shared across devices.

The speaker will sell for about $350 in December in the US, United Kingdom and Australia. This is Apple's long-awaited competitor to Amazon's popular Echo speark. Google delivered an Android Auto feature for smartphones previous year.

Siri has taken acting lessons and now delivers his or her lines with a little more human-like inflection.

The HomePod is Apple's first new gadget in almost three years, following its announcement of the Apple Watch in September 2014.

The lack of a breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone.

The company introduced iOS 11, the next version of the software that powers the iPhone and iPad.

Apple boss Tim Cook said the event was "the best and biggest WWDC ever". That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smartphones, he said. If the Google Home looks like an air freshener, the HomePod looks a bit like a ball of yarn. Apple said all communications are encrypted. Apple is poised to announce its own speaker at its annual conference for software programmers Monday. Apple executives demonstrated the use of Macs to produce VR experiences, though they didn't immediately talk about making a headset to view them. It will not block the ads themselves, though.

The company is also launching new models of both the iPad and the Mac computer.

A lot of news surrounding Apple there, and can only expect plenty more over the next week at WWDC. The increased price is to cover the improved sound technology, according to Apple. Apple also laid some groundwork for augmented reality, the projection of digital features onto real-world surroundings, by giving app developers tools for incorporating AR into their products.

Taking direct aim at services like PayPal, Apple debuted peer-to-peer payments for Apple Pay in which users will be able to send money through the Messages app on iPhones.