Introducing Apple's New Smart Speaker

The company did release some new versions of the iPad and Mac that will spur upgrades of those products, while also looking moving into new markets through the HomePod and peer to peer payments.

Rather than taking on Amazon's Echo and Google Home, however, analysts see HomePod less as a "smart assistant", and more as a pure music player.

That leaves HomePod in a weird place. Like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, the HomePod will play music while also helping people to manage their lives and homes. The HomePod sports a bulbous shape and looks nearly identical to Google's smart speaker.

That leaves Apple. Although it was the first smartphone maker to come out with a digital assistant when Siri debuted in 2011, it hasn't had a stand-alone assistant. Apple was nearly sheepish in mentioning that, yes, Siri on the HomePod can do most of the usual Siri things like make appointments, find sports scores, and send messages.

Apple HomePod quite expensive than the other two - and that too by a fair margin. But perhaps Apple wants to introduce this new device category slowly so that any initial missteps in the product won't get the outsized bad publicity such flubs might get if they start malfunctioning at the outset of that season.

While Siri would respond well to your voice commands, the control is not only with it.

So I wonder if Apple will be spending the next few months tweaking its audio algorithms.

Apart from being a dynamic music guru, HomePod can also be integrated with a user's daily household questions and tasks.

But this has been seen by some analysts as a deliberate distancing from the smart hub genre both the Echo and Google Home sit in, with Apple instead choosing to focus on its strength in music based on products such as iTunes and the iPod.

As a home assistant, the HomePod is a great way to 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. Why can't software developers do the same?

If Apple can outmatch the latter on sound, while providing enough smarts to compete with the former, the HomePod might have the makings of a good buy. It will tell you the joke because Siri is inside it. Via Apple Music, the smart device is also capable of learning your taste in music.

Same seems to be happening with smart speaker market as well.

"There is so much momentum building around these speakers that it would be hard for Apple not to come out with one", said industry analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.

For the upcoming 2017 winter holiday period, shoppers should expect a frenzy of activity focused on the Apple HomePod. And sure, it's Apple so these things are going to be pricy and hard to get until V1 gets a price cut when V2 drops - that strategy isn't going to stop working now.

The company also rolled out tools for developers to create augmented reality applications for iPhones and iPads. It has multi-channel echo cancellation, real-time acoustic modeling and more.

"Apple has been clever in holding out on its own launch", he said.

While it may sound weird, unlike Amazon and Google who proudly boast about the various things that their speakers can do, Apple has made a decision to position HomePod as a music primary device. Similarly, if Apple won't allow you to select a different default music app on your iPhone, why would a Siri speaker be any different?

The keynote speech at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference was 2-and-a-half hours long, but they packed a world's worth of news into that time.

Assuming Apple follows the same plan with the HomePod, pre-orders will probably start being accepted sometime around Black Friday, which is November 24 in 2017.

With the combination of Apple-engineered audio technology and advanced software, the HomePod's main goal is to rock the house.

  • Arturo Norris