Apple HomePod - Reinventing home music

It will then be available in other countries starting in 2018.

The HomePod, to be launched later this year, has six microphones built into it and is powered by Apple's smart assistant Siri.

HomePod is backed by Apple Music, which contains a library of songs from over two million artists.

Apple has also priced the HomePod much higher than rival devices, though the Cupertino company looks to be targeting music streaming speakers as well as Google and Amazon's smart speakers, so the higher price has some justification.

During the conference, Apple nodded to several up-and-coming technology trends, unveiling a new "smart" home speaker and device features touching on virtual reality, online privacy and a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning. Schiller said the speaker "needs to rock the house" free from distortion.

Because the HomePod boasts Siri as its smart virtual assistant, it can talk about a range of topics, from sports to news to movies and more. All you have to do is hold your iPhone next to the HomePod and it'll be ready to start playing music in seconds. The Apple Speaker is focused on music first, not Siri. It also combats the competitive threat from Google's and Amazon's connected speakers: Those don't support Apple services like Apple Music, which brings in US$10 in revenue per user each month. They can use the money instantly to send to someone, make purchases using Apple Pay in stores, apps and on the web, or transfer it from Apple Pay Cash to their bank account. 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. The conference ends on June 9. The HomePod features Apple HomeKit integration, so Siri can be used for tasks like turning on smart lights or adjusting the thermostat.

Siri will add inflection to her voice, to say phrases three different ways. It can tender news; read messages; set reminders, alarms, and timers; update information related to weather, traffic nearby and even translate one language to another.

HomePod is created to be the user's personal "musicologist", says Apple, learning personal preferences and tastes based on genres, moods and playlists.

The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released previous year, have helped plant the seeds for a promising market. A preview of a new high-powered iMac Pro desktop, due to be released later this year, was also teased.

Apple leaned heavily into the speaker's audio quality and specifications during its WWDC reveal.

"If we are comparing this to Apple's past successes, it doesn't fit that model", said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. On that note, the biggest difference between Apple's products and that of its competitors' is the price.

  • Arturo Norris