"The HomePod is a powerful home speaker with superior audio capabilities than other high-end speakers now in the market, and has Siri voice control that connects to other devices [based on Apple's HomeKit framework for home automation]", he said. It will allow users to automatically block auto-play videos by detecting videos that shouldn't be playing when you open a webpage to read an article, for example. Apple also announced a new translation service in Siri between English, Chinese and the four most popular European languages.
To accommodate for the included woofer and speaker setup the HomePod comes in slightly bigger package than the competitors too, measuring in at 6.8 inches tall by 5.6 inches wide, and weighing 5.5 pounds. With HomePod, only after "Hey Siri" is recognised locally on the device will any information be sent to Apple servers, encrypted and sent using an anonymous Siri identifier. Created to work with an Apple Music® subscription for access to over 40 million songs, HomePod provides deep knowledge of personal music preferences and tastes and helps users discover new music.
As for availability, you can expect it in Australia later this year, with December the expected month we'll see this, just in time for the holiday season. "We want to reinvent home music", said TimCook, Apple chief executive, in rolling out HomePod.
New features include person-to-person payment in Apple Pay, iMessage being synced across iOS and macOS, augmented reality support as well as a smarter virtual voice assistant Siri.
This isn't Apple's first attempt to enter the home audio market.
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But Siri voice control is also the key to taking on the Amazon Echo.
HomePod's integration with Apple Music will be an advantage, particularly if the customer is already entrenched in Apple's ecosystem, subscribes to Apple Music, and places high priority on music streaming when buying a smart speaker.
One of the most anticipated reveals was the new Apple smart speaker called the "Home Pod". Even in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia, that would appear to be later than would be ideal to catch the important holiday season. About 71 percent of them will be using Amazon'sEcho speaker, while Google's Home captures about 24 percent of the market.
The speaker has the "power to rock the house", according to Schiller, who said the team worked to make HomePod a potent assistant for news, messages, weather, traffic, home controls and more. Some of the products will be available immediately; others will come later this year. The increased price is to cover the improved sound technology, according to Apple.
Other major announces from Apple today included the new versions of MacOS and iOS, both of which introduce a number of new features to take advantage of Apple's latest hardware improvements. It's part of Apple's effort to entice professionals with tablets that can handle many tasks previously reserved for laptops.