Apple battle rivals with new 'HomePod' to reinvent home audio

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Apple has announced it is is launching a smart home speaker and electronic assistant called HomePod, created to compete with Amazon's Echo and Google's Home devices. By saying, "Hey Siri, I like this song", HomePod and Apple Music become the musicologist, learning preferences from hundreds of genres and moods, across tens of thousands of playlists, and these music tastes are shared across devices.

Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, said on stage that the product has been in the works for "years".

During the launch of its HomePod during its WWDC conference, Apple spent the majority of its time demonstrating the new device's audio and speaker's music abilities, while Barley is mentioning that the device is another great way to experience Siri.

At its annual developer conference, Apple typically shows off new software releases - updates to iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS - not new hardware, though it has introduced new Macs at the show in the past. It has "spatial awareness" to detect where it's located a room and adjust the sound accordingly.

HomePod is around seven inches high and features a 7-tweeter array with beam-forming tweeters - each with its own driver.

Apple says it's contextually aware, so you can ask tell Siri something like "Play something now" and then follow it up with "Who's singing".

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The Siri face for the Apple Watch was the first step in that direction, blending users' calendar information with other useful details, like airline tickets they may have booked.

Apple's HomePod speakers won't be arriving before fall.

HomePod will come in two colors at launch, Space Gray and White, and will begin selling in December in Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. for $349, and is compatible with the iPhone 5s and later, running iOS 11. That woofer plus an advanced algorithm that continuously analyzes the music and dynamically helps tunes the lower end frequencies that typically result in choppy, muddy noise, makes the new HomePod a speaker to rule them all.

The HomePod will go on sale later this year and costs $349.

Of course, this is nothing unusual for Apple to charge a premium for its technology products.