Apple HomePod Speaker to Compete with Amazon Echo

"We are so pleased to welcome Amazon to Apple TV", Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the event.

HomePod is Apple's official foray into the smart speaker market. It's also what Microsoft is targeting with the Surface Pro; a new model comes out on June 15. Porter shoppable app for Apple TV launched past year already offers something like that, and Amazon itself is already exploring the notion of special shoppable films to be made with major advertiser partners. With HomePod, only after "Hey Siri" is recognized locally on the device will any information be sent to Apple servers, encrypted and sent using an anonymous Siri identifier. Talking about how much space this device would occupy in your home, Apple HomePod is broader in diameter than Amazon Echo and Google Home. For Siri usage the HomePod uses six powerful microphones with echo cancellation features so it can easily hear when a user says "Hey Siri" to awaken the speaker. Good thing is, smart speakers category now have major players competing against each other which leave consumers spoilt for options to choose from. Unfortunately, Siri is tied to Apple Music, which means that Spotify and Amazon Prime Music aren't available (at least for now).

The company was careful not to sell HomePod as a superior, voice-activated assistant, yet it remains hard to ignore the speaker's Siri capabilities. 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.

Privacy has been a concern with home devices, as the mics are constantly listening in to user conversations while waiting for the command words, such as "OK Google".

Known as the "HomePod" and priced at $349, the product is a roughly 7-inch cylindrical speaker with essentially the same operating system as an iPhone.

As per the survey, in the previous month by analysis firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6% of the USA market, compared with 23.8% for Google Home.

Apple be saving some insights into HomePod for later this year when it is expected to unveil a tenth-anniversary edition of the iPhone. However, the Cupertino, California-based company has yet to spring into the home speaker market - that is, until now. "The notion of a "home assistant" or "virtual assistant" seems to be secondary". Moreover, it's the first hardware product from Apple, since the Apple Watch. The company trying to make up ground on its competitors.

It will come with an upgraded version of the Safari web browser which will prevent videos from autoplaying and prevent users from being tracked across sites. It also introduced autoplay blocking, which stops music and video from playing automatically without your permission on websites as well as "intelligent tracking prevention", which stops ads from following you around the web. Apple also laid some groundwork for augmented reality, the projection of digital features onto real-world surroundings, by giving app developers tools for incorporating AR into their products. So far, the service has limited payments to purchases of products and services from companies and other organizations.

The news marked Apple's main piece of tvOS-related news at WWDC.

Ortutay reported from NY.

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