Apple Launches 'HomePod,' Its First New Product in (Almost) 3 Years
05:30, Jun 6, 2017
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It's important to note that we have no idea how the virtual assistant angle works, though - Alexa in her current form is very capable, and Google Assistant is getting more sophisticated by the day. We'll be updating this article as and when we know more so please stay tuned.
The "HomePod" speaker unveiled Monday is similar to devices from rivals, some of which have been on the market for years. This means that Apple has placed an emphasis on audio quality, packing the speaker with an array of seven tweeters and a woofer as well as "spatial awareness" that detects its location in a room and adapts the output automatically. In fact, it's powered by an A8 chip, the same as what's inside your iPhone. 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. The $349 price tag is a bit more expensive than comparably-sized internet-connected speakers, almost double the price of the Amazon Echo, and more than double the Google Home.
The HomePod can also be used to control HomeKit-enabled devices.
"HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a lovely speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion free music and be a helpful assistant around your home", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior VP of worldwide marketing.
Apple will begin shipping the HomePod to the United States, Britain and Australia in December. Of course, we won't be able to vouch for this until we get to listen to it later this year. Apple said all communications are encrypted.
When compared to the Echo and the Home, the HomePod faces an uphill battle in the voice-powered speaker market.
The new software also contains a "Do Not Disturb While Driving" mode, which Apple says will help prevent iPhones distracting those behind the wheel, and a new "Files" app that resembles a traditional computer file system for viewing and organising documents.
At the moment, Siri only works with six types of app, including ride hailing and sharing services, messaging and calling, photo searches, payments, fitness and in-car entertainment and information services.
The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released past year, were the first entrants in a promising market. It can also read the news, play podcasts, send messages and complete other tasks. "It will reinvent home audio", boasted Apple CEO Tim Cook. It will also offer "virtual surround sound" technology.
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WWDC is traditionally the place where Apple shows off improvements to the software that powers its devices, rather than hardware revisions or brand new machines.
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