HomePod, Apple's smart speaker, has finally arrived

HomePod, Apple's smart speaker, has finally arrived

HomePod, Apple's smart speaker, has finally arrived

The company also launched a new configuration of the 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar that starts at a cheaper $1,299.

It's very much the Apple version of a smart home speaker that you imagined.

Apple just announced their first challenger to compete against Amazon Echo and Google Home voice-command driven smart wireless speakers, while simultaneously taking on Sonos whole-home audio solution. But where Amazon and Google are peddling a robotic home assistant, Apple leaned on its music roots with its pitch. Meant to be Apple's extension into your home, and working with your iPhone and iPad, the device brings Siri's voice-activation features to home automation.

HomePod is a rounded cylinder about 7-inches tall (it looks like the "trashcan" Mac Pro). Both of those companies already have smart speakers on the market that integrate with their services, but they aren't going to challenge Bose or other high-end speaker systems. Consequently, Apple is pushing HomePod as the reinvention of home music, a speaker capable of recognising its position within a room and adjusting its audio accordingly, or pairing with a second HomePod to double up. Siri® can also handle advanced searches within the music library, so users can ask questions like "Hey Siri, who's the drummer in this?" or create a shared Up Next queue with everyone in the home. The speaker will sell for about $350 in December.

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.

"Apple's the last of the big 5 (Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook) to reveal something about AI, but only by less than a year", Blau said. The iPhone maker has finally jumped into two of the hottest tech trends of the last two years-augmented reality and voice-activated speakers, with a promise to dominate these markets pioneered by its rivals. Apple says its smart home speaker delivers a right balance of sound quality as well as smart assistance, something the competition hasn't accomplished yet. While Siri was previously available on the Apple Watch, the assistant's ability to automatically show information was limited. The company "can't afford to yield valuable real-estate in the heart of people's homes to Amazon, Google and others", said Geoff Blaber, research analyst at CCS Insight. Although Siri does support a narrow set of third party voice actions on iOS devices, it's unclear whether these will be accessible on HomePod.

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It's a risk that the Cupertino, California-based Apple needs to take because it gets most of its profits from the iPhone, whose demand has flatlined in recent years. New iMacs released Monday are getting better displays and graphics capabilities.

Apple is trying to make augmented reality a reality with new tools for iPhones and iPads.

Google recently announced that its Chrome Web browser will block specific ad types by default, including auto-playing video ads.

It also gave a sneak peek for a new iMac Pro, which comes in space gray rather than the traditional white, and is "the most powerful Mac ever made". Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV.

For instance, if a contact sends you a request for money, Siri will immediately surface the new Apple Pay feature in your messages which allows you to make person-to-person payments, a challenge to PayPal Holdings Inc.'s similar Venmo system.

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