Apple reinvents home music with HomePod

New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

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Created to work with an Apple Music subscription and featuring built-in Siri technology, the nearly 7-inch HomePod will come in white and Space Gray.

HomePod will take on Amazon Echo and Google Home, which have momentum in the arena of voice-controlled speakers capable of controlling smart appliances, fetching content from the Internet and more.

The company is casting Siri as a music connoisseur that will learn and cater to the tastes of the HomePod's owners, as well as answer questions about the songs as they are played.

Apple seems to be aware that it is late to the smart speaker party, almost two years after Amazon debuted the Echo and several months after the release of the Google Home. It weighs 2.5kg and comes in two colour options- white and space grey.

For many tech fans, however, the new device's minimalist appearance overshadowed its technical prowess - and in true Twitteratti fashion, a meme was born. By embedding Siri, users can make specific demands like sending a text message and summarizing a news report. Amazon Echo has been subpoenaed for recording taken during alleged murders.

Known as the "HomePod" and priced at $349, the product is a roughly 7-inch cylinder speaker with essentially the same operating system as an iPhone.

In the end, the key difference is the music angle Apple is playing.

Investors do not believe it will, with Apple shares dipping slightly on the Nasdaq stock market following Monday's unveiling.

Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing said, "Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes".

HomePod combined elements of Echo and Sonos smart speakers, known for rich sound quality, according to Reticle Research principal analyst Ross Rubin.

It helps that a new piece of hardware will also provide a neat new revenue stream and pave the way for Afuture smart home products. Indeed, its Echo speaker will have 70.6% of users this year. Well, I think we are about to see more!

The Amazon-Apple deal is a good thing because the connected home has always been stymied by the multiplicity of home appliances which don't connect to eachother. But Sonos doesn't have a digital assistant, and HomePod's Siri will serve as virtual butler, DJ and musicologist by skipping and suggesting songs, as well as performing basic web searches, looking up the weather forecasts and setting alarms. U.S. pricing is $349, global pricing information will come a bit later.

Along the same lines, the iPad's multitasking capabilities are also getting a major upgrade, thanks to the new App Switcher feature.

Smart speakers may not seem as glamorous as shiny phones or sleek laptops, but they're a rare example of an electronic device in which sales are rocketing, rather than plateauing.

"We want powerful machine learning to be easier to use in your apps", software chief Craig Federighi said as he unveiled a toolkit that allows developers to use Apple's AI technology. Making the most of it will require a subscription to Apple's own music streaming service, which runs $10 to $15 per month and has attracted 27 million subscribers so far.

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