Apple takes on Amazon

The Apple HomePod will launch this December in white or gray and will cost $349.

Apple is really pushing the music angle with claims like HomePod will "reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes".

Apple Music is going head to head with Amazon's Echo and Google's Home in the home speaker market with its new voice-controlled HomePod system.

Apple played up the rich speaker quality of HomePod, and synched it with the company's music service that boasts 27 million subscribers.

The Home Pod is essentially a speaker, and Apple said it put a lot of effort into making sure it's a good one.

Introduced at Apple's WWDC 2017 conference, the 178mm tall speaker is created to work with an Apple Music subscription, and will go head to head with Amazon's Alexa ecosystem and Google Home this December.

Apple has thrown down the gauntlet to Google and Amazon by unveiling its Siri-powered HomePod intelligent speaker. Google sells Home for US$180, promoting the smart speakers with discounts. HomePod comes three years after Amazon launched the Echo and six months after Google launched its Home.

Apple has given Siri new male and female voices, described as more natural and expressive, and added abilities such as translating English phrases into Chinese, French, German, Italian or Spanish.

To take on its rival Echo, Apple had always been rumored to be working on a device.

"For us, it's not about being first. It can't afford to yield valuable real-estate in the heart of people's homes to Amazon, Google and others as access to content, information and search becomes pervasive and less dependent on the smartphone". So when it introduced new features for High Sierra's Safari that kill autoplay videos and stop cross-site tracking, it was for you (the customer).

At WWDC, Apple also showed off a new iPad and a new computer called iMac Pro.

Mac models were also boosted to work with virtual reality gear, a move by Apple into technology that Facebook has embraced with its Oculus unit. That sure seems to be what we're getting with the highly-priced HomePod.

All iPhones and iPads running iOS 11 will also get the refreshed Photos app, with machine learning to identify events, memories and more.

There are several significant differences between Amazon's device and Apple's newly-announced competitor, including price, shape, and more.

  • Arturo Norris