New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Camille Francis
June 10, 2017

The HomePod is Apple's first smart speaker, combining a loudspeaker capable of filling a room with music with the brains of Siri.

"Though Apple appears to be playing catch up with Amazon and Google, the primary casualty here may be Sonos". The HomePod is powered by Apple's A8 chip and will be available from December in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., which will be getting the initial batch of speakers in White and Space Grey at $349 (roughly Rs. 22,500).

Apple's music-first sales pitch may explain why Apple is pricing this device much higher than comparable home-assistant devices from Google and Amazon, which are not advertised as high-fidelity music devices.

Australia will be one of the first countries to receive the rollout of HomePod units, which will be available in December 2017.

Beyond just controlling music, you can control any "HomeKit" devices through HomePod - that means stuff like Phillips Hue lighting, Nest thermostats, and other smart devices. Apple said HomePod can pick up the commands from across the room with a 6-microphone array.

The company is casting Siri as a music connoisseur that will learn and cater to the tastes of the HomePod's owners, as well as answer questions about the songs as they are played.

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HomePod capped a keynote presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference that included updates to its iPad and Mac laptop lines, and upgraded operating software enabling augmented reality for iPhones and iPads.

The company is also reportedly working on a home speaker powered by Siri that could be unveiled during the conference, which would be a rarity for an event that traditionally features software and minor updates to hardware such as its Mac laptops.

That's it! It's very similar to Google's speaker/assistant combo, Home, in this respect.

Geoff Blaber, VP Research Americas, CCS Insight said: "It is little surprise that Apple has made a decision to launch a smart speaker". Although that product came out after other smartwatches hit the market, it quickly outshone competitors, according to industry research firms. The new Apple HomePod seems to be a good and useful device for the people who are Apple fans and want to have a good intelligent sound device at home. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smartphones, he said.

Following in Google's footsteps, Siri will also be able to translate and speak phrases from six languages, with more coming later, Apple said.

Apple is expected to announce plans for a speaker on Monday. New iMacs released Monday are getting better displays and graphics capabilities. This is a new Apple product that was announced today and it is a smartspeaker.

Other reports by My Hot News

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