Apple debuts HomePod speaker to bring Siri into the living room

Siri will now also be featured on the new Apple Watch face, suggesting helpful info based on your location and calendar events. Being christened as the "HomePod", this new product is claimed to reinvent music in home, according to the Cupertino giant.

HomePod also doubles as a smart home hub, the latest HomeKit-friendly hub besides the Apple TV (and your iOS device).

Since the launch of the Echo and Google Home, it has been suggested Apple's own assistant has fallen behind its rivals in the virtual assistant space. 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. Amazon also offers a $49.99 Dot speaker and the $229.99 Echo Show, which features a screen.

Richard Windsor from Edison Investment Research said: "Apple has positioned this as something that the user buys for a high-quality audio experience with Siri coming as an added bonus".

There are six microphones in HomePod, so it can handle voice commands - even when it's playing music - through Apple's digital assistant Siri.

"I got to hear a demo of that compared it to some of the other competitors", said Analyst Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies. Shipments of intelligent home speakers surged almost 600 per cent year-over-year to 4.2 million units in the fourth quarter, with Amazon taking about 88 per cent share and Google 10 percent, according to consultant Strategy Analytics. Pre-orders begin this week, and shipping starts next week.

Their battery charge should last for 10 hours, and Apple has included a new technology it called ProMotion, which will deliver higher refresh rates for the display.

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HomePod capped a keynote presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference that included updates to its iPad and Mac laptop lines, and upgraded operating software enabling augmented reality for iPhones and iPads. With the Homepod, Apple promises a newer and more efficient software for the speaker, as well as its other new products revealed at the conference. Apple overlaid their A8 chip, which is the real brains behind the speaker, allowing the device to adapt audio playback to the environment that the speaker is set in.

This year however, the talk also included the first look at the new HomePod, Apple's oddly named smart speaker.Available in December, it won't be cheap-$349-but Apple boasts that it will have better audio than its competition.HomePod requires an iPhone 5S or later and iOS 11.

Apple has also designed this to go seamlessly with an iPhone.

Regardless of why Apple chose to focus more on the audio quality of the HomePod than its Siri-driven smarts, we won't be able to evaluate how well it does at either until it ships, which Apple promised for December 2017 in the United States, UK, and Australia.

High Sierra will be released later this year as a free update, according to Federighi. Only after you utter that trigger phrase is any data sent to Apple, where it's associated with an anonymous Siri ID. It's also what Microsoft is targeting with the Surface Pro; a new model comes out on June 15.

Safari, Apple's web browser, seeks to make users' online experience smoother and less annoying.


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