Twitter's Apple HomePod verdict: 'It looks like a roll of toilet paper'

Ditching your phone for always-on smart home control is great, but not unheard of.

And now everyone is talking about machine learning, with Google and Facebook leading the charge.

Apple has announced the HomePod, a breakthrough wireless speaker for the home that delivers incredible audio quality and uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio.

You can also use Google Home to cast videos to a TV, either by using a Chromecast dongle or via a Chromecast-enabled TV, such as those from Sony and Vizio.

The new iPad Pro also comes with a better camera - the same one found in the iPhone 7 - along with more storage, a better display and faster refreshing of moving images. Yet Apple gadgets tend to function best within the Apple ecosystem, and Apple was quiet about whether or not the HomePod would work with third-party apps like the Echo does. These are uncharted waters for both Apple and its quirky virtual assistant, and even if the HomePod is now being pitched primarily to music lovers, it's also an exciting device for smart home diehards and gadget lovers in general.

Taken together, these are the technologies that some of the world's biggest technology companies believe will define the future of how we interact with our computers - not through mechanical interfaces, but more natural, human experiences.

As were the rumors suggesting, Apple was going to launch a Wi-Fi speaker and the company did that at the WWDC 2017 keynote. Today the question is more about what this means than what it is. Each of them differs with the core functionality but they are meant to serve the same objective. If not, many people will be better off combining their Sonos speakers with Amazon's cheap Echo Dot, as both companies are now working on Alexa integration for Sonos. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180; Google's Home speaker goes for $130.

Apple Inc on Monday introduced the HomePod, a voice-controlled speaker that can make music suggestions and adjust home temperatures, taking aim at Amazon.com Inc's Alexa feature and Echo devices.

Spatial awareness is one of HomePod's differentiating features. Soon, with a real app, that awkward workaround will be gone for good. But the only way you can control it is with your voice - and it just happens to know the weather and help you turn off your kitchen lights, too. Coming to the market a little late in the game, only time will tell.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the United States market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home.

Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of Apple hardware, software and services. What you won't do is boot up your Mac or pull out your iPhone. To show the tools off, Apple invited Wingnut AR, the company formed by "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson, on stage. Not only does the speaker use Apple's old, 30-pin iPod charger, but it's so old that the connector only supports Firewire charging, instead of the later generations of iPods, which used a similar physical adapter but used USB.

Apple is expected to announce plans this week to make its Siri voice assistant work with a larger variety of apps, but initial changes were expected to add just a small number of capabilities.

  • Arturo Norris