Apple debuts HomePod speaker to bring Siri into the living room

Apple Inc kicked off its annual developer conference on Monday by unveiling a "Siri face" for the Apple Watch that will enable the voice-activated assistant to provide users with information like commute times for upcoming appointments.

Displaying a Sonos product to show speakers that were, in Cook's words, "speakers but not smart", and an Amazon Echo to show something that was "smart, but not a speaker", HomePod is meant to be both.

HomePod, priced at US$349 and available in white and gray, will be initially released this December in the US, Britain and Australia before rolling out to other geographic markets next year.

In addition, Cook said Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, Northern California, now has 16 million registered software developers worldwide for its consumer electronics, including Smartphone known as iPhone, and 3 million of them were added past year. Dubbed "HomePod" the new speaker appears to have a strong focus on music, with Apple touting it as a speaker to "reinvent home music" through features such as "Rock the house" sound, spatial awareness, and "Musicologist". "It definitely puts a dent into Google Home".

Analysts say Apple has been slow to improve its Siri virtual assistant and launch a smart speaker, after Amazon launched its Echo in 2014.

In my brief experience with HomePod (basically five songs across four genres), I heard some very good audio. Apple said all communications are encrypted. So even though Apple TV will soon deliver Amazon content, it can't show it the way other devices can. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year.

There were, in this party, what you might called a pair of unwilling guests: an Amazon Echo and Sonos Play:3.

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HomePod and Echo, obviously, will ultimately be more direct competitors.
Amazon also has the Echo Dot, a budget version of the Echo that starts at $49.99.

Apple is officially jumping into the home speaker market. The Google Home does similar things but comes with the Google Assistant instead of Siri. Apple HomePod separates each aspect of music like the background, the vocals, and beams them separately to different parts of the room to make the overall effect more appealing.

He claimed this year's WWDC is the largest of the kind for the technology company.

Along with upgraded versions of iPad and Mac laptops, Apple provided look at an iMac Pro work station that had the computing built in behind the screen and was touted as the most powerful computer the company has ever made. The lack of a recent breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone and supported the theory that the company lost its knack for innovation when its co-founder Steve Jobs died of cancer in 2011.

At the very least, Apple does excel at lovely design. Apple refers to the HomePod as the flawless musicologist. New iMacs and MacBook laptops start shipping Monday. As a music-playing device, it will also be a challenger to Sonos, whose wifi-controlled speakers are used by many smartphone users for home entertainment.

The new iPad Pro is displayed during the 2017 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference. Cook promised updates to each of Apple's operating systems - for the Apple TV, the Apple Watch, mobile devices and computers - plus some additional announcements that he promises will be "major".

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