WWDC 2017: Apple introduces smart compact music speaker

This year however, the talk also included the first look at the new HomePod, Apple's oddly named smart speaker.

"Just like we did with portable music, we want to reinvent home music", CEO Tim Cook said.

While Amazon Echo and Google Home began stealing some market share from Sonos, Sonos prided itself on the excellent audio engineering that went into its speakers. Integrated Siri capabilities allow the speaker to act as a "musicologist" with Apple Music, which can be streamed directly to the HomePod without requiring an intermediate iOS device. Apple late arrival comes even as it pioneered the voice assistant industry by launching Siri in 2011 with the iPhone 4S. Users will also be available to control smart home products such as connected lighting by speaking to Siri through the HomePod.

It can also be used to control other devices in the home, and reportedly will be in competition against Amazon's Echo and Google Home.

New indoor maps of areas like malls and airports indicated that Apple might be laying groundwork to display information over images of those places in the future. Apple said that makes the Mac a great platform for development virtual-reality "experiences".


The price is quite a jump from Google's $129 Home and Amazon's $180 full-sized Echo. You can activate it with a wake word - "Hey Siri" - and ask an artificially intelligent assistant, Siri, to play music. But Apple (AAPL, Tech30) was careful to frame it as a product focused on music first - potentially differentiating it from the Echo and Home. Considering all three smart speakers have similar functionality, it will be interesting to see if Apple's inclusive ecosystem will influence successful sales of the Cupertino company's newest device.

Analysts said the smart home speaker market is ripe for Apple.

It is official: Amazon Prime is coming to Apple TV later this year.

And on the hardware side, the new $5k iMac Pro will be the most powerful ever made, with 5.5 teraflops (a real thing) of graphics processing power on its smoogletron (not a real thing).

Although Apple Watch has emerged as the leader in its technological niche, it hasn't become a smash hit like the iPhone or the iPad - at least until tablet sales started declining.

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