Look out Alexa: Apple announces 'HomePod,' a smart home audio speaker

Look out Alexa: Apple announces 'HomePod,' a smart home audio speaker

Look out Alexa: Apple announces 'HomePod,' a smart home audio speaker

At $349 (£240.23), Homepod will be more expensive than Google Home and Amazon Echo, but cheaper than the Sonos Play 5.

Apple's "True Tone" display will dynamically adjust the white balance4 of the display to match the light around the user for a more natural viewing experience. But with an end of year launch date, Apple has some catching up to do.

And while its competition has had a head start - the Amazon Echo launched in 2014 for Amazon Prime members and the Google Home was released a year ago - experts in voice and visual search said instead of being late to the party, Apple could raise the bar like it did for digital music players when it launched the iPod, or smartphones, as it did with the iPhone. He bragged about the sophisticated hardware in the device. "Internally, the HomePod features an array of 7 beam-forming tweeters at the bottom, coupled with an Apple-Designed 4" upward-facing woofer. So it has to prove that it can make a good speaker before calling it the best speaker ever.

Siri will soon be front and center on the Apple Watch, just like the Google Assistant has started showing up on Android Wear smartwatches. I did not feel like I was at the live concert, but I was still impressed with the audio quality. During Jobs' last decade, Apple introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad - all huge commercial successes that both reshaped daily life and swamped previous digital music players, smartphones and tablets. Voice and naturalised speech recognition technologies are key elements of artificial intelligence (AI) development, and greater advancement means they will become more adept at identifying and anticipation what humans are likely to ask them.

You'll be able to instantly send money to anyone you're messaging with from your Apple Pay account, and receive cash from them in turn, presenters demonstrated.

Some industry insiders, however, note Apple will be under more pressure to improve the computing smarts of its Siri software in the face of offerings from rivals Google and Amazon.

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The price is quite a jump from Google's $129 Home and Amazon's $180 full-sized Echo. For both companies, the priority is to attract as many customers as possible, without worrying too much about making a profit from each one.

Apple also unveiled new Macs, addressing complaints that Apple has let its Mac lineup languish in favour of its better-selling products, namely the iPhone. The phone will block most notifications to reduce temptations behind the wheel.

"Out of close to half a billion households in China, at least 150 million households - based on affluence and high annual income - could potentially make up the total addressable market for smart speakers in the country". Domestic appliances such as kettles, washing machines and fridges are also becoming wifi-connected. Pair two of the devices together, and they'll act as stereo speakers.

That leaves Apple. Although it was the first smartphone maker to come out with a digital assistant when Siri debuted in 2011, it hasn't had a stand-alone assistant.

If you think you're sold on Apple's HomePod, don't reach for your wallet just yet - there's a sizeable caveat to consider. The Apple TV has also struggled, with declining sales placing it behind Roku, the Amazon Fire, and the Google Chromecast. Beyond a visual overhaul, Apple could include updates to Apple Music and some core apps like Maps.

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