Apple unveils 'HomePod' speaker, first new product in years

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At $349 it's priced substantially higher than the $175 Echo and $129 Google Home.

Displaying a Sonos product to show speakers that were, in Cook's words, "speakers but not smart", and an Amazon Echo to show something that was "smart, but not a speaker", HomePod is meant to be both.

Yet how well Apple differentiates its new product with others already widely available is questionable.

Blaber said: "Apple's HomePod speaker casts fresh focus on Siri and will draw inevitable comparisons with the AI smarts of Amazon, Baidu, Google and others". By contrast, Amazon's Echo has been selling at $180 since its introduction in 2014, while Google' Home sells for $130 and the Harmon Kardon Invoke will likely debut at or below $200 to stay competitive with Google and Amazon.

Like those other products it is created to be a digital home assistant, capable of answering questions about maths as well as music-related enquiries - but it comes with some Apple quirks. "If you think about putting an Echo in every room times a two-room apartment or an eight-room home.compared to $350 for HomePod you could have eight Dots with our three-pack".

Apple's WWDC keynote was packed full of big announcements yesterday.

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference is now well under way, and one of the biggest announcements isn't the usual software offering. A larger problem for HomePod is also one of its headlining features: Siri.

As a home assistant, HomePod is a great way to send messages, get updates on news, sports and weather, or control smart home devices by simply asking Siri to turn on the lights, close the shades or activate a scene. "ORCRP001070-topic.html" class="local_link" >Apple nodded to several up-and-coming technology trends, unveiling a new "smart" home speaker and device features touching on virtual reality, online privacy and a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning. It's clear Apple has Sonos, probably moreso than Amazon or Google, in its crosshairs. Apple's speaker will be launching in the U.S., U.K., and Australia in December, with additional markets to come next year.

A new Siri interface on the Apple Watch will also blend users' calendar information with other useful details, like airline tickets they may have booked, the company said. By saying, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music will learn user preferences.

"Apple is a company that deeply cares about music and wants to deliver an audio experience in the home", Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg's Emily Chang.

The HomePod is Apple's first new gadget in almost three years, following its announcement of the Apple Watch in September 2014. And now with HomePod, Apple has a true voice assistant to bring into the home.

At the Wired Business Conference Wednesday, David Limp, senior vice president of devices at Amazon, said the company believes there should be more openness among competing virtual assistant platforms, USA Today reported. New iMacs and MacBook laptops start shipping Monday.

Another Safari feature will stop video from automatically playing on websites. "Apple will try to replicate what it did with the iPod, starting as a music device and then progressively morphing it into the iPhone with a range of apps and services".

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