Apple Thinks Its Smart HomePod Will 'Reinvent' Home Audio

In this event, the company has officially announced a new smart speaker, Apple HomePod, at the end of the yesterday's schedule. It's unclear how Apple's music service will integrate with HomePod, although Apple's website boasts the smart speaker as having access to Apple Music's 40 million songs, so that seems to confirm it.

Apple has finally unveiled its answer to Amazon's and Google's smart speakers slash digital assistants - and it's called HomePod.

"What we tried to do is build something that is a breakthrough speaker first", Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg.

Use HomePod with Siri from across the room to listen to Apple Music, control HomeKit accessories and more.

HomePod will be available for $349 (US) in white and space grey starting in December initially in Australia, the United Kingdom and the US.

Apple said the new ARkit would make use of the dual-lens camera on the iPhone 7 Plus, making the integration of virtual objects and the real world more realistic.

Apple will begin shipping the HomePod to the United States, Britain and Australia in December.

Some industry insiders, however, note Apple will be under more pressure to improve the computing smarts of its Siri software in the face of offerings from rivals Google and Amazon.

Cook also used the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) today to unveil the iOS 11, the software that will power its eagerly awaited iPhone 8 set to be released also later this year.

Yet Monday's announcement, rather than being routine, was the result of a negotiation stretching back at least to 2015 when Amazon stopped selling Apple TVs on its retail site. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180; Google's Home speaker goes for $130. Both speakers can respond to voice requests for the news, weather and tasks such as turning on the lights. Amazon Echo and Google Home have already been claiming spots in the American homes.

Apple is updating its smartwatch to give it more "smarts" using the Siri digital assistant. Pulling music from the Apple library, the speaker was presented as being able to recognize its placement and direct rich audio sound into the room.

- A new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is now available to order in New Zealand with prices starting at $1099 for the 64GB model.

Inside the mesh-wrapped 18cm cylinder is Apple's A8 processor - the same silicon powerplant as the iPhone 6 series - atop an array of speakers and microphones.

Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said the next Mac operating system will be named "High Sierra" in tribute to the California mountain range. Amazon needs places to stream its TV shows so that people sign up for its Prime club to watch them - and buy more toilet paper, too.

In earlier articles, we covered all the reasons why the product will definitely sell a few million units, but we also raised a question about long-term sustainability unless Apple made some serious moves with Siri's skills for various tasks.

Apple's strict adherence to profit goals can potentially hinder experiments and runs counter to efforts to pitch itself as more than a hardware company, even though Apple generates 88% of its annual sales from iPhones, computers, iPads, headphones and other hardware.

  • Carolyn Briggs