Apple HomePod: The smart speaker battle is on

REUTERS/Stephen LamPhotographers take a close look at the Apple HomePod which the company unveiled at the WWDC 2017 in California.

And then there were three. That company offers a similar wireless multi-speaker system for listening to music throughout the home, similar to HomePod's ability to chain together multiple speakers. Apple says that the speaker can adapt to the environment in which it is placed, playing music in all directions when placed in the center of a room while directing sound to the away from walls if placed in a corner.

The HomePod will work as a home assistant, for sending messages, getting updates on news, sports and weather, or controling smart home devices by simply asking Siri to turn on the lights or activate a scene.

Apple has revealed its Siri-powered HomePod smart-speaker.

"Just like we did with portable music, we want to reinvent home music", Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the Worldwide Developers Conference, where HomePod was unveiled, becoming Apple's first new device since the release of the Apple Watch in 2015. "HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a lovely speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion free music and be a helpful assistant around your home".

In the United States market, the Amazon Echo now costs around $180 each, while the Google Home retails for $129.

"A big question mark for the new speaker, though, is whether Siri is good enough to power its own dedicated device".

A new Siri interface on the Apple Watch will also blend users' calendar information with other useful details, like airline tickets they may have booked, the company said. It will retail for $349, a pretty penny over the $179 Amazon Echo. "A smart speaker utilizing an underachieving voice assistant could dampen interest in the product".

Macbooks, a new line of pro-level iMacs, updates to watchOS, iOS11, and Mac OS High Sierra.

The speaker, while expected by some industry watchers, marked Apple's first new product announcement since the Apple Watch in September 2014.

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  • Carolyn Briggs