Apple Joins Smart-Speaker Race With Music-Focused 'HomePod'

Using the HomePod is like using Siri, without the need to tap any buttons.

We were fortunate to experience the HomePod in action to hear the audio performance before it launches later in the year - and to sonically compare it to the Sonos Play3 and the Amazon Echo. It also has a feature called Musicologist that connects with Apple Music to stream music users ask the speaker's Siri to play. It also serves as a smart voice assistant. But the HomePod, priced at $349, is designed with high-end audio features like the ability to detect the size and shape of the room and use this information to adjust the sound of the speaker.

Apple says its Safari browser will try to guard your privacy by identifying and blocking data files that track you as you move from website to website. Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for development virtual-reality experiences.

Mr Blau suspected Apple only gave a glimpse at its vision for HomePod, noting its potential to be a command center for smart houses and to mesh with iPhones, iPads, online services and more.

Apple updates its iMac desktops pretty much each year, improving its graphics power train, its Retina displays and others such as USB-C ports.

Following in Google's footsteps, Siri will also be able to translate and speak phrases from six languages, with more coming later, Apple said. Which is better? It's time for a good old fight: it's the Apple HomePod vs Amazon Echo.

Improvements to the AirPlay feature for sharing audio from iOS devices, which one-ups Google's invasion of home audio speakers through the Chromecast Audio dongle. Apple is optimistic that the iPhone 7 Plus will continue to spur growth, though interest in the iconic device has been on the wane after recent smartphone launches from a slew of Android phone manufacturers led by the likes of Samsung, Google and Huawei.

Apple just announced HomePod, its worst-named product ever but also its most interesting for several years, if you're into music.

It would be Apple's first new product since its smartwatch in 2015.

Siri can do those things, too, but Apple's pitch for Siri-powered HomePod is instead focused heavily on music - the company appears to bank on consumers paying for smart speakers that deliver high-quality audio sound as a sort of gateway into the world of smart home assistants.

Apple is still expected to announce an Amazon rival: a Siri smart speaker.

With more and more companies betting on voice and visual search being the next frontier, the HomePod positions Apple as a major player in a burgeoning category. It also rolled out developer's kits for augmented reality and machine learning on iOS 11 and upgraded its Macintosh and iPad computers.

HomePod is deemed a more expensive competitor of Echo, which was released two years ago. On the Harman Kardon Invoke, that job belongs to Cortana; on Google Home, well, you probably can figure that one out. Siri only listens after you say the wake-word, presenters stressed, and your communications with it are encrypted and marked with a unique token, not your name or ID.

Apple HomePod will be available starting in December, initially in Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA - potentially to be followed by other countries in 2018.