New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

This has been one major area in consumer electronics lacking Apple's footprint. "However, it costs $349, which is much more expensive than Amazon's Echo or Google Home". Schiller announced Siri first and foremost as the Homepod's "musicologist", but he eventually listed off a variety of standard Siri-styled voice requests, such as managing home lights and answering questions about news, weather, and sports scores.

"HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a handsome speaker that is less than seven inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion-free music and be a helpful assistant around your home", Shiller said.

The HomePod - due to launch in December - looks like a mesh cylinder. Inside are 7 tweeters arrayed along the bottom, as well as a single up-firing 4-inch woofer.

Apple said the HomePod will also be compatible with the company's HomeKit system for controlling smart home devices, like lighting, heating, air conditioning and home security systems. The pricing of Apple's device was shared at the conference in comparison to both smart home speakers as well as premium audio speakers.

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Amazon and Google have been put on notice with the advent of Apple HomePod.

The company is also reportedly working on a home speaker powered by Siri that could be unveiled during the conference, which would be a rarity for an event that traditionally features software and minor updates to hardware such as its Mac laptops. Until you say that command, the speaker sends no audio or information to Apple. Echo has become a surprise hit since Amazon released it almost three years ago. It will be available in other countries next year. It, too, comes with a built-in speaker and voice controls through the smart assistant Google Assistant. In its update on the next operating system to hit iPhones - iOS 11 - new tools will be given to developers to create AR apps.

Apple made a major fintech play that shouldn't be underestimated. Despite the company's insistence that HomePod will sound incredible, it all feels like too little too late to take on the growing smart speaker market.


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