WWDC 2017: Apple introduces smart compact music speaker

Dora Pope
June 8, 2017

Apple's Siri assistant will be integrated into the $349 speaker, and can make music recommendations that pair with the company's Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control compatible home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats.

It looks like a home assistant and it acts like a home assistant, but Apple Inc. says it has created a smart speaker with a focus on music.

Cook did not mention when the Amazon Prime Video service will be coming to Apple TV, only revealing that it will be available sometime later this year.

"One of the advantages that we have is that there are a lot of things that Siri knows to do from the cloud", he added.

Apple's biggest announcement was the HomePod, a speaker with a built-in virtual assistant (Siri) that will sell for $US349 from December.

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Apple on Monday unveiled its "HomePod" speaker as it moved to challenge Amazon Alexa and Google Home as a smart home and music hub. This makes the HomePod considerably more expensive than the standard cost of an Echo or Google Home Device.

Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes. These are uncharted waters for both Apple and its quirky virtual assistant, and even if the HomePod is now being pitched primarily to music lovers, it's also an exciting device for smart home diehards and gadget lovers in general.

It is the first new device Apple has announced in nearly three years. It will then be available in other countries starting in 2018. Shipments of intelligent home speakers surged almost 600 per cent year-over-year to 4.2 million units in the fourth quarter, with Amazon taking about 88 per cent share and Google 10 percent, according to consultant Strategy Analytics. These types of music-related capabilities are limited to Apple Music subscribers, though; if you don't want to pay a monthly fee, Siri won't be able to help you here. For iPad, iOS 11 will introduce a customizable dock for the tablet. Combined with Siri you'll be able to ask it to "play more from this band" or ask for more songs with the same guitarist and the like. For the customers in the US, UK, and Australia, the speaker will start shipping by December first, in White and Space Gray color options.

Apple launched a new size for its iPad - 10.5-inches. It's also what Microsoft is targeting with the Surface Pro; a new model comes out on June 15.

A new iMac Pro is on the way too. "I think that we today, as we get the developer release out in the hands of the developers, we'll have the largest augmented reality platform in the world". You can also use it relay voice commands to smart appliances that use Apple's smart-home software, HomeKit (these include a range of smart bulbs, thermostats, and so on, but excludes Google-owned Nest's smart thermostat).

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