Apple introduces HomePod, its entry into the home assistant market

EMarketer estimates 35.6 million Americans will use voice-enabled speakers such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home at least once a month, an increase of 129 percent over a year ago.

Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for developing virtual-reality "experiences", although the company didn't announce any consumer VR products.

Apple is pitching the HomePod as a music player above everything else, perhaps because Siri is perceived to be far weaker than Google's Assistant and Amazon's Echo intelligent assistants.

People with smart speakers can use them to control home appliances such as toasters, refrigerators and clothes dryers. Google Home followed in October and Microsoft's assistant, Cortana, is also finding a home in home speakers.

Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, said on stage that the product has been in the works for "years".

Apple lost ground to Spotify in the early days of music streaming, and its home speaker is meant to be a booster rocket for Apple Music.

It is created to work with the Apple Music subscription service and can produce rich sound while tapping into the artificial intelligence power of Siri.

Other features include a room-sensing technology that will automatically adapt the sound to the size of its location. Ask her to play something new or play more like what you're listening to, and Siri will happily oblige.

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The updated operating system will also include the second revamp of the Apple Music streaming service in as many years. Siri intelligence- It will operate with on the device learning and will suggest topics, and respond to it users.

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And say what you will about the HomePod name itself, or whether or not a superior audio experience will even be able to lure buyers away from the more wallet-friendly Echo and Google Home, it's hard not to marvel at the engineering resources Apple poured into its forthcoming smart speaker. Apple say it will launch at a price of $349 (roughly £270) in the U.S., with official pricing for Australia and the United Kingdom will be released later this year.

The HomePod now only supports Apple Music. HomePod will integrate with your other Apple devices through iCloud to fetch appointments and reminders as well.

Apple's HomePod will be available for $349 this December in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. No doubt pitching the HomePod as an audio solution rather than the hardware manifestation of an AI is convenient.

Price/Features: Full global HomePod pricing hasn't been shared by Apple yet however, we do know the speaker will be priced at $349 in the US.

The new Fire TV app sounds similar to the shopping app Amazon rolled out for the Apple TV tvOS in December, although that app was only for Amazon Prime members, and it is not clear whether this one is limited to Prime members or not. For HomePod it's Siri, and for Amazon Echo it's Alexa.

Apple said it had updated the processors in its iMac and MacBook Pro lineup to Intel's most recent "Kaby Lake" processors.

The free software, iOS 11, is expected in September, when Apple typically releases new iPhones. This makes Amazon's speaker more functional and versatile.

Cook also used the Apple keynote to show off new iPad and Mac computer models, as well as provide glimpses at coming versions of the software powering the technology titan's devices. Each of them differs with the core functionality but they are meant to serve the same goal. Throughout this feature I've compared Apple's speaker to the Play:3, my favourite Sonos speaker priced at £299/$299.

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