Apple just unveiled HomePod, a $349 competitor to Amazon's Echo

Wednesday, 07 Jun, 2017

Like those other products it is created to be a digital home assistant, capable of answering questions about maths as well as music-related enquiries - but it comes with some Apple quirks.

The HomePod is a 6.8-inch speaker driven by an Apple A8 SoC to handle echo cancellation and optimize sound for a given space.

Apple unveiled its home speaker during WWDC 2017 on Monday.

Apple has revealed HomePod, a compact speaker and home assistant with support for Siri and Apple Music.

Apple made the argument that the HomePod speaker combines the best of the new speaker idea out there. That said, at the present time, it remains a little unclear exactly how Apple will store and protect user data.

According to Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, the HomePod will "reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes".

Taking a direct aim at both audio speakers and smart speakers available in the market, Apple mentioned that they are neither good at one job nor the other. The Amazon Echo, with its signature Alexa assistant, is still the undisputed market leader in terms of compatibility with smart home brands.

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Apple has given Siri new male and female voices, described as more natural and expressive, and added abilities such as translating English phrases into Chinese, French, German, Italian or Spanish. In addition to music control, Siri can provide weather, traffic, sports, homekit control, messages, reminders, and more. The functionality is similar to that of existing home speakers such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. Apart from the smart speakers, the company also launched iOS 11, iPad Pro and iMac Pro during the conference.

The latest version of Apple's Safari browser will be able to stop automatically playing videos as well as online trackers used for advertisers.

The extensive range of updates are all due for release later this year.

As a music player, the HomePod vows to offer more limpid sounds than the competition. When away from home, HomePod is a home hub, providing remote access and home automations through the Home app on iPhone or iPad.

Apple Maps will get lane guidance for highways and floor plans for indoor malls and airports.

It can do the usual list of tasks we've come to expect from smart speakers, though it appears to have minimal third-party integration.