Apple aims to 'reinvent home music' with HomePod smart speaker


With more voice assistants competing for your attention than ever before, the time was right for Apple to introduce a slew of Siri upgrades on Monday, June 5, at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

But we did get a good sense of the HomePod speaker size, how it'll light up and if it'll be good enough to take on Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Apple HomePod is the smart speaker that wants to be at the center of your home audio experience, and that's great news for iPhone and iPad users.

When compared to the Echo and the Home, the HomePod faces an uphill battle in the voice-powered speaker market.

The trend-setting company also is putting new twists on existing products as it delves deeper into virtual reality and a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning. It packs a four-inch woofer and an array of seven tweeters, each with its own driver to deliver better sound than smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home.

The speaker, while expected by some industry watchers, marked Apple's first new product announcement since the Apple Watch in September 2014.

The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released a year ago, were the first entrants in a promising market. And it would mark an effort by Apple to catch up with Amazon and Google.

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More 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, according the research firm eMarketer. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year.

For that reason, Apple made the point that the price of both of these items would normally be more expensive than the HomePod price.

The HomePod will be available starting in December, initially in the USA, the United Kingdom, and Australia. And Apple's biggest consumer hits - such as the iPhone or the iPod - haven't historically been the first in their category.

Leading up to it, Apple says those outside app developers have earned more than $70 billion since Apple's app store launched in 2008.

The new iPad Pro is displayed during the 2017 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference. New iMacs released Monday are getting better displays and graphics capabilities. There's also a 12.9in version that starts at $799.

On the software front, RBC Capital analyst Amit Daryanani expects the iOS 11 - the next operating system for Apple's iPhones and iPads - to get an overhaul that will accommodate the anticipated removal of the home button from the 10th anniversary model of the iPhone due out later this year. It can also read the news, play podcasts, send messages and complete other tasks.

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