Apple unveils $349 HomePod to compete with Amazon Echo, Google Home

New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Apple unveils $349 HomePod to compete with Amazon Echo, Google Home

He mentioned wireless speaker systems such as Sonos that "sound good but are not smart" and "other smart speakers" (presumably a reference to Amazon Echo and Google Home) that "don't sound great". By saying, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music become the ideal musicologist, learning preferences from hundreds of genres and moods, across tens of thousands of playlists, and these music tastes are shared across devices.

Apple will take on Amazon and Google with a £270 HomePod that puts its Siri smart assistant into a tabletop speaker. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is seeking new revenue streams after becoming heavily reliant on the success of the iPhone.

Analysts said the smart home speaker market is ripe for Apple. Shipments of intelligent home speakers surged almost 600 per cent year-over-year to 4.2 million units in the fourth quarter, with Amazon taking about 88 per cent share and Google 10 percent, according to consultant Strategy Analytics. Google Home followed in October and Microsoft's assistant, Cortana, is also finding a home in home speakers.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO and Auburn alumnus, walks onto the stage at the Telfair B. Peet Theatre, on Thursday, April 5, 2017 in Auburn, Ala. The new speaker establishes a bulwark inside the home to lock customers more tightly into these services. Making the most of it will require a subscription to Apple's own music streaming service, which runs $10 to $15 per month and has attracted 27 million subscribers so far. Amazon has heavily dominated the field with its home speaker called Echo, which uses the digital assistant Alexa. Siri, a digital assistant that has been on Apple's iPhone since 2011, will be voice activated to respond to requests for information and other help around the house.

The device has already entered production, Bloomberg reported last month.

Apple is introducing an iPad Pro in a new size in an attempt to revive interest in its once hot-selling line of tablets.

Safari, Apple's web browser, seeks to make users' online experience smoother and less annoying. It will block videos that start playing automatically, for instance, and can also prevent ads from following and profiling users. It will also be responsible for improving performance and security features.

New features coming to iPhones and iPads include messages that sync to Apple servers in the cloud.

The technology, a feature of the wildly successfully smartphone game Pokemon Go, overlays digital information on real-world images and is seen as an area in which the keenly awaited 10th-anniversary iPhone can stand out from competitors.

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