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Apple's HomePod speaker brings Siri into the living room
06 June 2017, 05:30 | Deanna Wagner
The price is quite a jump from Google's $129 Home and Amazon's $180 full-sized Echo. Whereas the Echo and Home are pitched as entry points for a whole ecosystem of artificially intelligent, voice-powered services and devices, the HomePod is being pitched as a high-quality music player that happens to be integrated with Apple's Siri voice assistant.
Apple is officially jumping into the home speaker market. The HomePod is created to work along with Apple Music, so it essentially requires one to have a subscription to music streaming service, which will give access to over 40 million songs. With this processor inside, the speaker is able to deliver high-quality sound as well as listen intently for commands for Siri.
Apple also may introduce its next Mac computer, along with the next operating system powering the machine.
The HomePod will cost about $466 and ship out in December.
If Apple unveils a rival to internet-connected speakers from Amazon and Google, it wouldn't be the first time that Apple hops on the bandwagon of a technology product popularized by a competitor.
It starts shipping later this year in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia.
Apple also unveiled new Macs, addressing complaints that Apple has let its Mac lineup languish in favor of its better-selling products, namely the iPhone.
As you would expect, the device relies heavily on its integration with Apple Music, with Apple's vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller touting the music streaming service's access to over 40 million songs. The company "can't afford to yield valuable real-estate in the heart of people's homes to Amazon, Google and others", said Geoff Blaber, research analyst at CCS Insight.
While Apple may hope that people buy into the idea of HomePod serving a different, more musical objective than its Amazon and Google rivals, people really like using their speakers for services beyond listening to music. This device rolls with a "wide range of deep, rich bass" as well as "smooth, distortion-free sound" - so says Apple.
Despite ever-shrinking sales, Apple announced a refresh for its line of high-end tablets.
The CEO Tim Cook announced the update at Apple's annual conference for software programmers on Monday. The manufacturing duties have apparently been handled by the same company that makes the iPhone 7's AirPods, with the devices being tested by Apple employees in secret. It will not block the ads themselves, though. It's part of Apple's effort to entice professionals with tablets that can handle many tasks previously reserved for laptops.
However, people in the know have told ReutersApple won't go in full charge trying to make everything voice-powered like Amazon, but will instead focus on perfecting a few new features that work well, test them, then roll out more.
Apple is also bringing the ability to pay someone back through its payment service, Apple Pay, much as PayPal and other services already do.
Apple was the first major company to introduce a digital assistant into its devices, with the launch of Siri. iPhone users can interact with their apps through Siri, and as of recent software upgrades, can also use Siri voice commands to control their Apple TV.
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However, it'll also take on other tasks to help distinguish itself in the increasingly crowded smart speaker market. Three years later, Apple has yet to introduce a voice-control speaker that isn't tied to its mobile software iOS.