HomePod First Look: Hey Siri, What Took You So Long?

Elizabeth Williams
June 10, 2017

It will ship in models with 8-core, 10-core or 18-core Intel Xeon processors.

There are also rumors the company will announce a new smart speaker and updates to its Mac and iPad lines.

Analysts and investors were watching Apple's annual developers conference for signs of what the company's next blockbuster product might be a decade after the introduction of its iPhone.

Siri might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but Apple knows hardware.

Apple's products tend to follow a specific routine when it comes to naming.

A smart speaker is primarily used to stream music and news, set timers and reminders, manage shopping lists, and control connected-home devices like lights or thermostats.

Following in Google's footsteps, Siri will also be able to translate and speak phrases from six languages, with more coming later, Apple said.

The built-in "musicologist" works with Apple Music by drawing in music from the service and it remembers your playlists and your favourite artists. You can also tell Siri you like a certain song, and it'll remember your tastes. The HomePod can also be networked, so that multiple speakers can be installed in the same room, to produce more immersive sound. The smart speaker, based on the iPhone maker's intelligent personal assistant Siri, will directly compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home.

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However, the company is far from the first to bring this tech to the market, with Amazon's Echo and Google's Home speakers also available. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year. But the HomePod, priced at $349, is designed with high-end audio features like the ability to detect the size and shape of the room and use this information to adjust the sound of the speaker. If Apple hits a home run with its own offering, it could start taking away the throne from Amazon. That might be why the company made music as the HomePod's key selling point instead, as it can't come out on top of the smart assistant race.

The HomePod, which Apple claims is the next evolution of its focus on music technology, is essentially just a wireless speaker.

Improvements to the AirPlay feature for sharing audio from iOS devices, which one-ups Google's invasion of home audio speakers through the Chromecast Audio dongle. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smarthphones, he said. Both devices require a power supply and a internet connection in order to answer questions, select songs and make witty observations.

So - a cynic might say Apple has just launched the world's most-hyped bluetooth speaker - not much imagination there.

Apple had plenty of other announcements.

With iOS11, Siri's voice is getting an upgrade. "People at Apple's anxiety level went up a notch", said a former member of Apple's Siri team. It will not actually block ads, though.

Ortutay reported from NY.

Other reports by VgToday

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