Apple Unveils HomePod Smart Speaker

Later Monday, it's expected to announce an internet-connected smart speaker to compete with Amazon's Echo and Google's Home.

"Though Apple appears to be playing catch up with Amazon and Google, the primary casualty here may be Sonos". KGI securities' super Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had called the higher HomePod price weeks ago, and was 100% right on.

The tech giant confirmed the device would go on sale in December in the US, UK and Australia.

A subtle but important - for some consumers - feature is the fact that Apple is doing more around privacy than its rivals. Living inside an apple bubble where you can only access a limited range of products should probably be more attractive to Apple than to its users for obvious reasons.

Pulling music from the Apple library, the speaker was presented as being able to recognize its placement and direct rich audio sound into the room. Google Home's assistant is able to access a user's search and location history and stores data on voice commands until it's been deleted.

Apple is also updating its smartwatch to give it more "smarts" using the Siri digital assistant. It has been tested by some Apple employees in their homes for upwards of a year, according to people familiar with the matter. The company "can't afford to yield valuable real-estate in the heart of people's homes to Amazon, Google and others", said Geoff Blaber, research analyst at CCS Insight.

The Apple TV will function as a whole-home audio device as well, so users can launch music on the big screen - using either the touch remote or Siri - and have audio play on other speakers as well.

Safari, Apple's web browser, seeks to make users' online experience smoother and less annoying.

Apple said it will be the "most powerful Mac" the company has ever made. It will not block the ads themselves, though.

New features coming to iPhones and iPads, meanwhile, include marginal improvements such as syncing messages to Apple servers in the cloud, saving storage space on phones and tablets. It's part of Apple's effort to entice professionals with tablets that can handle many tasks previously reserved for laptops.

Apple is taking on Venmo and Square Cash with peer-to-peer payments. Apple also laid some groundwork for augmented reality, the projection of digital features onto real-world surroundings, by giving app developers tools for incorporating AR into their products. Before, transactions had been limited to products and services from businesses and institutions.

This was revealed after Apple released the first beta of iOS 11 to developers shortly after unveiling the new update yesterday.

  • Arturo Norris