Apple Joins Smart-Speaker Race With Music-Focused 'HomePod'

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The crowd cheered in California this morning, when Apple announced HomePod, a new smart speaker armed with Siri, the company's virtual assistant.

Apple "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.

Apple could debut the speaker as soon as its annual developer conference in June, but the device will not be ready to ship until later in the year, the people said. Sales seem to be taking off, and you can see why Apple is keen to get into this area as smartphone sales plateau.

Prospero said the HomePod is worthy of your attention. It failed miserably. Not only are those two speakers substantially cheaper than the $349 (about £270 or AU$460) Apple HomePod, but the HomePod feels far behind in terms of connectivity.

Ahead of Apple's launch, the competition has upgraded their speakers with support for making voice calls, while Amazon's gained a touchscreen.

But in the midst of all these new bells and whistles, the only new product presented was the HomePod speaker, a Siri-powered device to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home. Both speakers can respond to voice requests for the news, weather and tasks such as turning on the lights.

HomePod and its Siri will be available in black or white.

Apple says its Safari browser on the Mac will try to guard your privacy by identifying and blocking data files that track you as you move from website to website.

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Apple said today that there will soon be an Apple TV app for Amazon's Prime Video service (the new home of the show formerly known as Top Gear).

Regardless of why Apple chose to focus more on the audio quality of the HomePod than its Siri-driven smarts, we won't be able to evaluate how well it does at either until it ships, which Apple promised for December 2017 in the United States, UK, and Australia.

Apple is introducing a 10.5-inch iPad Pro in an attempt to revive interest in its once hot-selling line of tablets.

Apple's new iMacs are getting brighter displays and graphics capabilities, which Apple says makes the Mac a great platform for developing virtual-reality experiences.

A parade of executives followed Cook unto the stage and unveiled a series of updates to Apple's hardware, software and mobile applications, or apps, including iMac desktop computer, MacBook laptop machine, iPad, Apple Watch, iOS software operating system and App Store. The new model will begin shipping on Monday.

Developers were also wowed with the new ArKit.

High Sierra will be released later this year as a free update, according to Federighi. HomePod features a large, Apple-designed woofer for deep, clean bass, a custom array of seven beam-forming tweeters that provide pure high frequency acoustics with incredible directional control and powerful technologies built right in to preserve the richness and intent of the original recordings.

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