Apple unveils 'HomePod' speaker, first new product in years

Todd Singleton
June 8, 2017

The smart speaker works by talking to an updated Siri that better understands music-related requests, Apple said during its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California.

United States tech giant Apple revealed its latest gadget range on Monday, with the company launching the HomePod speaker in an effort to compete with the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Yet on Monday, at its annual developer conference, Apple announced new efforts in all three areas at the same time.

After months of speculation, Apple has finally launched its "smart" speaker, the HomePod.

Cook and other Apple executives showed off several additional new Siri functions, highlighting how the company has been working to catch up with similar offerings from Alphabet Inc. and Inc.

"HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a lovely speaker that is less than seven inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion-free music and be a helpful assistant around your home", Shiller said.

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

The company was careful not to sell HomePod as a superior, voice-activated assistant, yet it remains hard to ignore the speaker's Siri capabilities. "It will reinvent home audio", boasted Apple CEO Tim Cook. At the price of $349, it is quite an expensive device for just a speaker. Yes, the esthetics quotient is high, as with any Apple hardware, but the 4-inch woofer and 7 surround tweeters are definitely a little overkill for a device of this size.

Amazon redefined the concept of a personal assistant by freeing it from the phone, and creating a standalone speaker that you could talk to in your home.

It is the first new device Apple has announced in nearly three years. As market analyst Paul Verna, from eMarketer, said: "Whenever these companies try to freeze each other out, everybody suffers".

Still, the Apple Watch hasn't been a smash hit, fueling worries that the company's ability to transfix customers had waned after the 2011 death of co-founder Steve Jobs. "Apple will try to replicate what it did with the iPod, starting as a music device and then progressively morphing it into the iPhone with a range of apps and services". (Apple is widely expected to introduce a redesigned version of its iconic handset this fall.) Apple trotted out upgrades to its Mac and iPad lines, and as anticipated, it announced the HomePod speaker. Living up to the legacy of those products, Apple says it centered its focus on making HomePod "sound unbelievable".

Cook said smartphone growth and innovation are "in the early stages". It also enables the speaker to produces the deepest, most cleanest bass possible, and virtually no distortion.

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