Check out Apple's official video introduction of the HomePod

Siri might hear you loud and clear on the new HomePod smart speaker, but Apple won't.

Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, says users can pay within the iMessage app, "so you can send a receive money right in your transcript". The HomePod is created to work along with Apple Music, so it essentially requires one to have a subscription to music streaming service, which will give access to over 40 million songs. Users of the new Apple Pay service will be able to use a debit card or the virtual Apple Pay Cash Card to make payments without being charged a fee; credit card transactions will incur a 3% fee. One new development will be its ability to communicate wirelessly with other devices such as glucose monitors. Amazon has heavily dominated the field with its home speaker called Echo, which uses the digital assistant Alexa. Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for development virtual-reality experiences.

Apple is late on VR.

The 7-inch smart speaker is spatially aware of it's surroundings, in glaring contrast to its users at the WWDC that sit on the floor hogging a power socket.

HomePod, aided by Apple's Siri digital assistant, will be priced at $349 when it begins shipping in December in the United States, Australia and Britain, the tech giant announced at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. It also features a tweaked design for the iPad that looks more like the Mac operating system.

But the company is also touting its intelligence (the HomePod is powered by an Apple A8 chip), as helping to boost audio performance compared to Sonos.

Amazon claims the reason it doesn't show Chromecast and Apple TV in its listings is because neither offer Amazon Video. Apple has been rumoured to be introducing a smart, standalone Siri speaker, similar in functionality to products such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

It will feature a more natural-sounding voice interface.

Apple said it is also using "on-device learning" to enable Siri to take people's tastes into account.

The moves announced Monday escalate Apple's technological battle of wits with Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. It has been tested by some Apple employees in their homes for upwards of a year, according to people familiar with the matter. It links to your Apple Music subscription to learn your likes and dislikes, and, apparently, will be able to respond to requests as vague as "play something new", and "play something mellow".

A set of iOS 11 features including enabling smartphone cameras to read QR codes are aimed at the China market, where Apple would like to bolster iPhone sales.

  • Arturo Norris