Apple expected to reveal Amazon and Google smart speaker rival

HomePod is also created to work with the newly-announced AirPlay 2 multi-room audio solution, which allows the two to automatically detect and balance each other for a more "lifelike" sound. Apple has also make HomePod a "home assistant" that can answer all kinds of questions and tell you about the weather or the traffic.

Amazon and Google are early movers in this market.

Apple also used its annual developer meeting in San Jose, California - its largest ever with some 5,000 people attending - to offer hints about so-called augmented reality technology.

Apple's Siri assistant will be integrated into the $349 speaker, and can make music recommendations that pair with the company's Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control compatible home gadgets like light bulbs and thermostats.

The HomePod will use its internal microphones to pick up voice commands and uses the same processor chip as the iPhone to pump out "spatially aware" sound, Apple said. 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. Tapping Apples Siri digital assistant, such a speaker is expected to serve as a butler as well as an outlet for listening to music.

Look for the HomePod to go on sale in December for $350. Google Home and Amazon Echo have certainly jumped out to a headstart in this category, but that just means Apple has had a chance to sit back and watch the reaction in order to release its own version with hopefully less issues and an emphasis in key areas. Additional markets are planned for next year, while there is no word yet on Australian pricing.

More than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year, according the research firm eMarketer. HomePod will act as a funnel towards more than Apple Music, but other e-commerce options as well. In other words, Sonos is now an Apple competitor.

"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes", said Schiller.

Geoff Blaber, VP Research Americas, CCS Insight said: "It is little surprise that Apple has made a decision to launch a smart speaker". To show you in the simplest form how it compares to Google Home and Amazon Echo, we put together the chart below.

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. I wasn't able to see if the mesh covering is removable, and Apple's recommendations for caring for the covering remains to be seen. The Safari Web browser was also updated to block autoplay videos and limit targeting of ads.

At the event, a parade of executives unveiled updates to Apple's hardware, software and mobile applications, or apps, including iMac desktop computer, MacBook laptop machine, iPad, Apple Watch, iOS software operating system and App Store. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Siri's progress has been slowed for a number of reasons, including the departures of some Siri team members and a slow pace of innovation (possibly due to the fact that the iPhone is still Apple's flagship product).

Notably, the new software includes new artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality features.

Amazon Prime content is to be available on Apple TV, but it's uncertain whether Apple content will be available on Amazon Prime.

  • Arturo Norris