Apple Introduces HomePod, a Siri-Equipped Smart Speaker

"Apple will carve out some sales in the smart speaker market with HomePod but will continue to stand far behind Amazon and Google by the end of 2017", Ronan de Renesse, of the analysis firm Ovum, said in an email.

"HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a handsome speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion-free music and be a helpful assistant around your home". Not surprisingly, the HomePod is also Siri-enabled, and will let you ask of it a wide range of things, including news, music, weather, sports, and more. Harmon Kardon is readying a home speaker equipped with Microsoft's Cortana voice assistant, and between that and Google's existing smart speaker efforts, the market is set to get crowded very quickly.

After first appearing on phones, voice assistants entered the home in a big way with the Amazon Echo, a speaker that was equipped with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant.

In addition to the focus on Apple Music, Phil Schiller highlighted a number of other areas that Siri would be equipped to handle on the HomePod, as seen below.

Apple has a short product video for its new product, available for viewing below. Although the format is not exclusive to Apple, it's not yet clear how well the photos will work with non-Apple software and devices, which mostly use JPEG.

He pointed out, however, that the new Apple product will compete squarely against wireless home speaker systems from the likes of Bose and Sonos, and indirectly against the Amazon Echo and Google Home digital assistants.

The HomePod speaker is photographed in a showroom during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Monday in San Jose, California.

Although Siri would likely be a centerpiece of a smart speaker from Apple, Moorhead said the device's design, colors and acoustics will also likely be focal points because the company has a long history of making elegantly designed products. That device was just a multi-touch feature phone with a few Apple utilities until it became everything with the App Store launch. The new model starts at $649 and will start shipping next week.

Some industry insiders, however, note Apple will be under more pressure to improve the computing smarts of its Siri software in the face of offerings from rivals Google and Amazon.

Safari, Apple's web browser, is getting new features aimed at online annoyances. Apple also unveiled the high-end iMac Pro coming in December starting at about $5,000. It's created to respond in a natural, conversational manner to voice queries, and is also powered by cloud-based AI technology.

Introduced at the end of today's WWDC keynote, HomePod is a Siri-equipped smart speaker that specializes in music.

  • Arturo Norris