Apple's Siri aims to be in tune with your home arrangements

The HomePod is Apple's first new gadget in almost three years, following its announcement of the Apple Watch in September 2014. But thanks to a smarter Siri integrated into this speaker, you can send messages, get updates on news, sports and weather, or control smart home devices by simply asking Siri to turn on the lights, close the shades or activate a scene.

What's far more debatable is how much the average consumer values high-fidelity audio, and how much they're willing to pay for it. Apple said that comparable systems comprised of high-fidelity Wi-Fi speakers paired with a smart virtual assistant can cost anywhere from $400 to $700, which it used to justify the $350 price tag.

That's the case for smart-home voice control, and it's one that Amazon has been making ever since its Echo speaker debuted.

The new HomePod is an impressive piece of hardware.

For Apple, profitability comes in the form of product sales and keeping users locked into its Ecosystem.

"I do think there's the perception that Siri's been left behind, and they've been left behind with the devices", says Recode Executive Editor Kara Swisher.

One of the most important foundational technology upgrades announced Monday was AirPlay 2, a much-needed update to Apple's wireless streaming protocol. Let us know by commenting down below!

A notable absence from the list of initial partners was Sonos, a company that nearly single-handedly created the wireless multiroom audio category.

At $349, HomePod certainly pummels the smart home speaker market on pricing. It normalizes the concept of voice commands for smart-home gear, as well as the notion that you don't need a phone or tablet to control those products.

The HomePod is a unusual device. Then in October 2016, Google unveiled its smart speaker, the Home. If the Mac Pro was a speaker, it would be the HomePod.

Custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters, each with its own amplifier.

Apple vice president Phil Schiller said the company's Siri team had tuned the assistant into a "musicologist" that learns the tastes of listeners and gets songs from the internet cloud.

Yet on Monday, at its annual developer conference, Apple announced new efforts in all three areas at the same time.

Virtual reality on the Mac will put Apple on par with some of the other big tech companies in the world - such as Microsoft, Google, and Samsung - which already make it easy to create immersive, 360-degree videos, or transport gamers to virtual worlds. Advanced searches will even tell users the particular musician playing in a song.

However, letting Amazon blanket the mass market with $49 Echo Dots does not mean Apple is ceding the virtual assistant market to Amazon.

Sweeney suggests the VR market is so small right now it is hard for teams to justify large investments in content, but with AR suddenly more accessible on hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads it is a potential gold rush for teams investing in the right idea.

In a blog post Technalysis Research founder Bob O'Donnell depicted Apple's latest product news as an affirmation that the company has not fallen behind competitors and is working to take advantage of potentially exciting new technologies. And you can soon find Siri inside a standalone speaker for the home. It's a typical bit of Apple minimalism.

Lastly, let's not forget that the HomePod with HomeKit is a true smart home hub, with all the built-in intelligence to make a powerful Apple-powered smart home come to life.

  • Arturo Norris