Apple announces HomePod to compete with Google Home, Amazon Echo

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"Just like we did with portable music, we want to reinvent home music", Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the Worldwide Developers Conference, where HomePod was unveiled, becoming Apple's first new device since the release of the Apple Watch in 2015. When the time ticks around, a blue light ring will appear on the Echo device and Alexa will remind you as commanded.

Alexa by Amazon has over 10,000 "skills", or you can say third-party apps that allow you manage your home appliances OR play music via Spotify on one of the Echo devices.

McIlwain said he expects Apple to add new categories at next week's bash, but not almost enough to match Alexa's number of skills. It's both a smart speaker and powerful source of music. Probably sensibly, Apple executives spent far less time trumpeting how HomePod will work with Siri, which is still too dumb for all but basic functions like setting reminders. It's essentially a voice-operated digital assistant, but thanks to machine learning algorithms, it's created to get smarter the more you use it, adapting to your vocabulary, speech patterns, and usage habits.

How much will it cost?

You might wonder why it took Apple this long to launch a home speaker.

It starts shipping later this year in the US, United Kingdom and Australia. In that way, it's like a very big AirPod. Inside is the same processor that powers the iPhone and an upward-facing 4-inch woofer. Along the bottom: 6 microphones and a beam-forming tweeter. The entire speaker is 6.8-inches tall and 5.6-inches in diameter, made to fit in with home decor without disappearing.

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Imagine what Apple could do if it didn't mind losing money on one product like a home speaker or from potential future products like an Apple auto or glasses that mix the virtual world with reality like the Pokemon Go game.

But it's more than just a loud wireless speaker.

Apple was also expected to unveil improvements to Siri, its digital voice assistant that competes with Inc's Alexa and the Google Assistant helper. It would mark an effort by Apple to catch up with Amazon and Google.

HomePod can automatically detect the space it is in and adjust its sound to fill that space.

Leading up to it, Apple says those outside app developers have earned more than $70 billion since Apple's app store launched in 2008. Pulling music from the Apple library, the speaker was presented as being able to recognize its placement and direct rich audio sound into the room. This is what is rumoured to be underpinning Apple's smart assistant product. The internet giant has quietly added support for linking Alexa to your iCloud calendar, letting you add events or check appointments that should promptly show up on your iOS devices and Macs, Engadget said.Do I need to have an Amazon Echo speaker to use Alexa?

The Amazon Echo is designed primarily as a connected speaker, and that's what it looks like - a smooth black cylinder, with a speaker grille around the lower half.