Apple 'HomePod' speaker to take on Amazon, Google

The HomePod speaker is photographed in a a showroom during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Monday in San Jose, Calif.

But of course Apple says its siri-based system tops them all because it's giving more emphasis to sound quality, not just smarts.

"Apple is smart to frame the HomePod as a music-centric and audio-centric device rather than just another smart speaker or another home for Siri", said Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson.

"You can be across the room and speak to the HomePod even while loud music is playing", Apple's Phil Schiller said during the introduction presentation.

It is the first new device Apple has announced in nearly three years.

But it all comes for a fairly hefty price.

The HomePod will be available for US$349 in white and space gray starting in December initially in Australia, the United Kingdom and the US. Shipments of intelligent home speakers surged almost 600 per cent year-over-year to 4.2 million units in the fourth quarter, with Amazon taking about 88 per cent share and Google 10 percent, according to consultant Strategy Analytics.


Forget the HomePod speaker: For Apple TV owners, the big WWDC news is that the Apple TV will soon gain an Amazon Prime Video app.

The Company that has entered the market late is already facing some serious competition from Amazon and Google despite being one of the first to deliver the Siri voice assistant for their iPhones in 2011.

After all, the market for such devices is growing fast, and projected to keep expanding: in a report this month, research firm eMarketer predicted almost 36 million Americans will use a speaker-based voice-assistant each month this year, more than twice as many as a year ago. Google, meanwhile, previewed new speaker features such as hands-free phone calling during its software conference last month.

We will have to wait until the tail end of 2017 to see if Apple's HomePod will be a must have for homes and if its can steal back an early lead from its rivals.

Users will be able to ask Siri to play songs and answer questions via the speaker. HomePod will integrate with your other Apple devices through iCloud to fetch appointments and reminders as well.

New indoor maps of areas like malls and airports indicated that Apple might be laying groundwork to display information over images of those places in the future. Siri was originally developed at SRI International as part of a DARPA-funded artificial intelligence project called CALO (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes) and spun out as a startup; Apple purchased it in 2010.

And on the hardware side, the new $5k iMac Pro will be the most powerful ever made, with 5.5 teraflops (a real thing) of graphics processing power on its smoogletron (not a real thing).

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