Apple 'HomePod' speaker to take on Amazon, Google

"It can't afford to yield valuable real-estate in the heart of people's homes to Amazon, Google and others as access to content, information and search becomes pervasive and less dependent on the smartphone". For years, any premium paid for Apple products was because "it just worked".

"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". However, by making it hard to integrate with non-Apple services, many consumers will be forced to stay away from this late addition to an increasingly crowded digital marketplace. Last year's confab saw Siri opened up to third-party developers for the first time. "You're the product." If you missed it, that's a dig at Google, which makes most of its money selling ads complete with incredibly rich data about its users. It features spatial awareness which enables it to sense its surroundings and adjust the audio automatically.

HomePod, powered Apple's Siri digital assistant, will be priced at $349 when it begins shipping in December in the United States, Australia and Britain, the tech giant announced at its annual developers conference. It'll also have Siri embedded, meaning anything you can ask Siri on your phone you can ask a HomePod, as well as use it to control smart home devices using Apple's Home Kit.

Apple had plenty of other announcements. "You can even be sat across the room when loud music is playing".

Virtual reality has been described as the next big thing for decades. It "reinvents home music" - but it doesn't reinvent the home assistant.

Apple will later this year release a "HomePod" music-centric smart home speaker, challenging a market now dominated by Amazon and Google in its latest move to weave deeper into people's lives. Yes, you can tap the top of the HomePod to skip to the next song or pause your music, but if you want make the most out of your HomePod, you're going to have to brush up on your Siri commands.

A Do Not Disturb While Driving mode, which delivers a different user interface when iPhone users are driving. It's part of Apple's effort to entice professionals with tablets that can handle many tasks previously reserved for laptops.

Apple's entry into the market could change this. Making the most of it will require a subscription to Apple's own music streaming service, which runs $10 to $15 per month and has attracted 27 million subscribers so far. Per consulting firm Strategy Analytics, smart speakers sales were up by almost 600 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, with 4.2 million smart speakers sold in the fourth quarter (about 88 percent of those were Amazon products, and 10 percent were Google).

"Though Apple appears to be playing catch up with Amazon and Google, the primary casualty here may be Sonos". The story of a sensitive and soulful man who fell in love with his operating system seemed ludicrous to many upon its original release, even if she was the voice of Scarlett Johansson. Although the format is not exclusive to Apple, it's not yet clear how well the photos will work with non-Apple software and devices, which mostly use JPEG. With the Apple TV set up as your HomeKit hub, the TV actually has to be on and you have to speak into the included remote to control your home's smart accessories.