Published: Fri, June 09, 2017
Culture | By Kelly Harrison

Apple Joins Smart-Speaker Race With Music-Focused 'HomePod'

Apple Joins Smart-Speaker Race With Music-Focused 'HomePod'

At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled the HomePod Monday, its latest home device. It's called the HomePod and Apple thinks it will reinvent home music. Schiller said devices like the Amazon Echo have poor sound quality, and wifi speakers like Sonos don't have interactive voice assistants. With Siri most widely used on iPhone, Apple risked missing out on the daily, at-home tasks consumers increasingly use Echo or Home for - reminders, calendars, music. The HomePod is created to work along with Apple Music, so it essentially requires one to have a subscription to music streaming service, which will give access to over 40 million songs.

It comes as Apple is poised to unveil a Siri-powered internet-connected speaker to rival Amazon's Echo and Google Home.

The secret is officially out: Apple is taking on Amazon and Google with its own smart speaker, called the HomePod.

The free software update for mobile devices, iOS 11, is expected in September when Apple typically releases new iPhones.

Also, in important news for the upcoming macOS release, High Sierra, there will be an update to Safari that helps block site trackers and autoplaying videos - something that seems to be an epidemic on media sites right now and it drives me, personally, insane.

The company is also launching new models of both the iPad and the Mac computer.

Following in Google's footsteps, Siri will also be able to translate and speak phrases from six languages, with more coming later, Apple said. Although that product came out after other smartwatches hit the market, it quickly outshone competitors, according to industry research firms.

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An early glimpse at updates to iPhone and Mac software has become a tradition at Apple's annual conference for app developers, which begins Monday in San Jose, California.

Apple also shared the latest version of watchOS4, which continues to put the emphasis on the Apple Watch as a fitness device.

More than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year, according the research firm eMarketer. It's the first time in 15 years that Apple has held its conference in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley.

Tapping Apple's Siri digital assistant, such a speaker is expected to serve as a butler as well as an outlet for listening to music.

But the prospect of a completely new Apple product, combined with a more useful Siri, is the most anticipated possibility for analysts and Apple fans. Google followed with its Home speaker, featuring its plain-named Assistant, last year.

But really, this is Apple's admission that it needed to kick the voice command can down the road a bit and strengthen Siri but it goes gunning for Google and Amazon. But on a screenless speaker like HomePod, if Siri sucks, the whole gadget does too.

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