Apple unveils HomePod to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home

The next version of the Apple Watch operating system - watchOS 4 - includes a new watch face that puts the company's intelligent assistant Siri front and centre.

This updated HomePod has revealed at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, on Monday.

Geoff Blaber, VP Research Americas, CCS Insight said: "It is little surprise that Apple has made a decision to launch a smart speaker". "Hey Siri", brings the speaker to life and then you can ask it to play music. Apple said HomePod can separate vocals and other parts of the music via Apple Music, but that more recent recordings will perform the separation better.

An internet-connected speaker called HomePod is coming in December for about $350.

At $349, the HomePod is more expensive than the most-expensive Amazon Echo - the $230 Echo Show - and the Google Home, priced at $129. It features built-in Siri for voice assistance functions and Apple Music integration for access to more than 40 million songs in your living room.

And although there has been no official announcement, USA media says Apple products will return to Amazon's home page, after a two-year absence, as a quid pro quo.

The lack of a breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone and supported the theory that the company lost its knack for innovation when its co-founder Steve Jobs died of cancer in 2011.

We will have to wait until the tail end of 2017 to see if Apple's HomePod will be a must have for homes and if its can steal back an early lead from its rivals. 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. 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.

Having said that, the new speaker comes with six microphones which will be the mode of interaction for users with the HomePod. I'd also say the music sounded consistently vivid and crisp in a quiet space, more so than the Sonos and Amazon comparisons on-hand.

This is a bittersweet announcement for Apple TV fans. The new model will begin shipping on Monday.

Apple's new iMacs are getting brighter displays and graphics capabilities, which Apple says makes the Mac a great platform for developing virtual-reality experiences. It will not block the ads themselves, though.

Apple also introduced a new version of its business-oriented iPad Pro at an intermediate size with more storage, a better display and an improved camera. This is the product that will measure Apple's progress and whether its stance on privacy hinders its machine learning endeavours.

It also introduced a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro and previewed the upcoming iOS 11.

This has been one major area in consumer electronics lacking Apple's footprint.

  • Arturo Norris