Apple introduces 'HomePod,' first new product in years

Posted June 06, 2017

"HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a attractive 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".

Apple is emphasizing the HomePod's audio capabilities as a key factor separating it from more affordable rivals like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

It is created to work with the Apple Music subscription service and can produce rich sound while tapping into the artificial intelligence power of Siri.

A HomePod speaker that plays music and lets you talk to Siri.

Siri will soon be front and center on the Apple Watch, just like the Google Assistant has started showing up on Android Wear smartwatches.

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Apple today took wraps off of a neat new piece of home audio gear - a compact speaker which takes aim at both personal assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, and also the premium wireless speaker market. Apple also announced a new translation service in Siri between English, Chinese and the four most popular European languages.

The device stands 7 inches tall and is lined with a mesh fabric similar to the base of the Google Home or exterior of an Amazon Tap.

Whenever Apple announces a new iPhone, it tends to release in within a matter of weeks.

Apple is making a competitor to Amazon's Echo speaker, and it features a familiar voice: Siri. It will start shipping in December for $349 in white and space gray colors.

More recently, reports surfaced indicating that Apple's Siri speaker will boast virtual surround sound.

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Along with upgraded versions of iPad and Mac laptops, Apple provided look at an iMac Pro work station that had the computing built in behind the screen and was touted as the most powerful computer the company has ever made. It's not clear whether Apple will turn a profit on the device when it officially hits the market later this year.

However, people in the know have told Reuters Apple won't go in full charge trying to make everything voice-powered like Amazon, but will instead focus on perfecting a few new features that work well, test them, then roll out more.

While Apple played up the music aspects of the HomePod in its presentation, the device will be capable of performing the everyday tasks that competing smart speaker devices perform such as retrieving the weather or reading news headlines. Apple last updated the iPad Pro last fall, when it introduced the smaller model, but the iPad Pro hasn't had a significant performance update since its 2015 release. And all communications will be encrypted, meaning authorities can't try to tap home communications.

But Apple should embrace more mass-market prices in new product categories. Mark Gurman at Bloomberg News wrote earlier this year that the company didn't move ahead with features that would have given its Apple TV web-streaming product higher-quality video streaming and a video game controller in part because it didn't want to skimp on its profit margin.

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