Apple HomePod brings Siri into the living room

It will allow users to talk to Siri, Apple's digital assistant, while at home and costs US$349 (S$ 481) - nearly double the price of most competing products. In other words, Apple is positioning it to take on Sonos in audio quality, while offering the smarts of the Amazon Echo, combining the two approaches in a single product.

"Voice is the next frontier for search and discovery, and there are lots of opportunities to leverage voice command within the home", said Michael Levine, vice president of marketing at Photon, a firm that creates voice-based digital experiences.

Google merely lists a "high excursion speaker" in its Home gadget.

Apple's HomePod comes on the heels of a moment when Sonos has a 76 percent marketshare amongst CE Pros in the wireless audio category, while Amazon Echo has a 55 percent marketshare in voice control. The HomePod, in comparison, was the best of both worlds. And it would mark an effort by Apple to catch up with Amazon and Google.

The device is set to be available in black and white and will first be launched in the US, UK and Australia before Christmas. Google followed with its Home speaker, featuring its plain-named Assistant, last year.

It's no surprise that HomePod is deeply tied to Apple Music, which costs $10 a month.

Now it seems the Echo is getting some serious competition from Apple. The new speaker establishes a bulwark inside the home to lock customers more tightly into these services.

It's more than a smart speaker, though, according to Apple.

Derived from the work of voice actress Susan Bennett, the Siri intelligent assistant first made its debut in 2011. But the company relented, and Apple's larger phones have become hot commodities as more people have embraced having a bigger display to look at pictures and watch video on the devices. Apple also claims that the speaker's microphone array is strong enough to be able to pick up what a user is saying from across the room even when loud music is playing.

In addition, Cook said Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, Northern California, now has 16 million registered software developers worldwide for its consumer electronics, including smartphone known as iPhone, and 3 million of them were added previous year.

But the best new addition for people using the iPad in a professional setting may be the operating system's new feature that allows users to mark up virtually documents that they can access on their iPads using the Apple Pencil.

Apple's Safari browser will soon be able to stop videos from auto-playing. But Apple occasionally also uses the event to introduce new devices and services and upgrades to existing products.

Not only will Apple offer new male and female voices, but Apple says using the latest advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, their voices will be more natural and expressive, adjust intonation, pitch, emphasis and tempo while speaking and can translate English words and phrases into Chinese, French, German, Italian or Spanish.

  • Arturo Norris