Apple to showcase new features for its gadgets

Posted June 08, 2017

HomePod comes three years after Amazon launched the Echo and six months after Google launched its Home.

HomePod marks Apple's attempt to put a stake in the smart-home assistant hardware market, an area now dominated by Amazon's growing array of Alexa-running devices, like its Echo speaker, and Google's Home gadget, which runs Google Assistant. This compares to Amazon's offering, which uses seven microphones to hear user-activated commands across the room. For example, there will be Prime video content like viewing movies and TV shows while using Apple TV.

Finally, when talking about its ability to use Siri, he explained most in depth how the assistant can help with a range of music-related HomePod commands like "play something more mellow" or questions like "who's playing drums on this track?"

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.

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The conference is typically devoted to software updates and this year, Apple released a series of new features and updates for the iPhone, the iPad, Mac and the Apple Watch - including an augmented-reality kit for developers aimed at making the iPhone "the largest AR platform in the world". When the product was unveiled, it became pretty obvious which companies Apple wanted to compete with. 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. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smartphones, he said. There is a 4-inch woofer too. The unit is powered by the same A8 processor as used by the iPhone 6, and will be available in Space Grey and White. The chip does all the audio engineering - real-time acoustic modelling, audio beam forming and echo cancellation.

Where Apple hopes to stand out in its late entry to the smart speaker market, however, is by putting extra emphasis on the speaker part of the equation. But the product seems directly inspired by existing smart speakers from Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) and Google (GOOGL, Tech30).

Apple's Siri assistant will be integrated into the $349 speaker, and can make music recommendations that pair with the company's Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control compatible home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats.

Apple has a higher price point than its competitors.

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To live up to that bold claim Apple revealed some of the specs that make it such a powerful device.

Kuo believes that the Apple's smart speaker will support the AirPlay wireless technology.

According to sources Sonos has ambitions on integrating with every intelligent voice assistant out there.

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