Apple HomePod speaker favors sound over Siri

Posted June 09, 2017

Following in Google's footsteps, Siri will also be able to translate and speak phrases from six languages, with more coming later, Apple said. So far, the service has limited payments to purchases of products and services from companies and other organizations.

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.

Against other smart home assistants, the HomePod's targets are different from ostensible competitors like the Amazon Echo. The speaker will feature native support for Apple Music, but Apple didn't reveal more of the technical details about what music playback support will be available for the HomePod.

The 7-inch high speaker will be available in white and black and will ship starting in December initially in Australia, the United Kingdom and the US.

There's also an update to WatchOS with a new Siri interface and a new Music app for the Apple Watch, and laptops are getting updates, with a new faster 21.5-inch MacBook Air with 4K high resolution that will start at around $1,300, and a new 13-inch MacBook Pro that starts at $1,300. The new model will start at $649 for 64GB of storage and cost up to $949 for 512GB.

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Aimed at high-end design professionals rather than the home market, the iMac Pro is to begin shipping in December with a starting price of $4,999. The Google Home does similar things but comes with the Google Assistant instead of Siri.

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The HomePod will use its internal microphones to pick up voice commands and uses the same processor chip as the iPhone to pump out "spatially aware" sound, Apple said.

The next version of iOS, which powers the iPhone and iPad, as well as desktop software macOS and the Apple Watch's watchOS were also updated at the firm's annual developer conference, WWDC.

The announcements follow complaints that Apple has let its Mac computers languish in favor of its better-selling products, namely the iPhone. Users can also ask the HomePod questions about whatever music is playing, like "Who's playing drums on this track?" Schiller said devices like the Amazon Echo have poor sound quality, and wifi speakers like Sonos don't have interactive voice assistants.

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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. Amazon has also emphasized bringing Alexa to other devices outside of the Echo like home TVs and appliances. Like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, Apple's HomePod speaker will play music while also helping people to manage their lives and homes.

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.

The lack of a breakthrough device has periodically raised concerns that Apple has become too dependent on the iPhone.

Apple appears poised to unveil a voice-activated, internet-connected speaker that would create a new digital pipeline into people's homes.

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