Apple Announces New Siri-Based Speaker System HomePod

Siri can also be used manage smart devices on a home network, such as heating and lighting.

A new Apple HomePod smart speaker is seen on display during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple (AAPL) finally has a horse in one of the hottest consumer tech categories out there.

The trend-setting company also is putting new twists on existing products as it delves deeper into virtual reality and a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning. But while Siri improved incrementally, it was overtaken by rivals such as Google's Assistant, and faces competition from Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana too.

Speaking at the conference earlier today, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller said that the device will "reinvent home music. just like the iPod reinvented music in our pockets".

Amid the pre-WWDC speculation that pegged the potential Siri speaker as Apple's answer to assistants like the Amazon Echo, Apple made a curious move to lead explicitly with the HomePod as a higher-end audio speaker that's powered by its Siri virtual assistant.

Apple said Siri, which also competes with the Google Assistant helper, will now be able to create appointments on an iPhone after an appointment is booked on a Mac, for example, marking the first time that privacy-conscious Apple has let the assistant work across devices.

The firm said Siri will now better understand follow-up questions and scheduling as well as handle language translation for the first time.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO and Auburn alumnus, walks onto the stage at the Telfair B. Peet Theatre, on Thursday, April 5, 2017 in Auburn, Ala.

The HomePod will be available in December in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia in white and space gray.

The enormous success of the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers had fuelled rumours Apple would enter the market.

Although the smart speaker market is dominated by Amazon and Google, Apple appears to have set its sights on other players in the speaker market. 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 doubling from last year.

After months of speculation, Apple officially announced the HomePod at its WWDC 2017 developer conference, and took the opportunity to announce the release window: December 2017. It clearly costs more than the other brands but Apple is confident that the product and its state-of-the-art features will justify its price.

Apple says Amazon will be making an app for its video service for the Apple TV device this year, filling one of the major gaps on Apple's streaming TV device.

Still, it has several similarities with the other home-assistant offerings. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smarthphones, he said.

  • Arturo Norris