Apple unveils HomePod smart speaker

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Apple has elevated Siri from the phone to the home with the launch of its new HomePod smart speaker, unveiled at WWDC 2017.

The new Apple smart speaker's design is similar to the Google Home.

There are only a few such smart speakers now that adjust the sound output based on their presence and the number of speakers in the same room.

Oh you thought Apple was just going to sit back while Amazon and Google cornered the digital assistant speaker market?

Standing at just under 7 inches tall, the HomePod comes in the standard Apple white or black colourways. You may get your hands on this for $349 which roughly translates to Rs 22,500. "We want to reinvent home music", Apple CEO Tim Cook said before Phil Schiller, the company's Vice President of Marketing, pointed out the HomePod's unique position in the current market landscape. Like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, Apple's HomePod speaker will play music while also helping people to manage their lives and homes.

HomePod is controlled using Siri, the company's voice-activated personal assistant, which has, according to Apple, been trained to be better at answering questions about music such as "Hey Siri, who's the drummer in this?" The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year.

As it stands the Amazon Echo and other Echo-related devices are powered by Amazon's Alexa AI.

The Apple HomePod has an A8 chip along with a unique woof specially designed by the company. Some of the key features that will appeal to the home user are its ability to throw music recommendations based on Apple's Music service, text messaging, checking the news and sports scores etc. You can also use voice commands to set alarms, timers, and reminders. Let us know in the comment section below. HomePod is shipping later this year - it's not quite ready for prime time.

Compared to the audio quality of Apple's new HomePod, the Amazon Echo is a significant mismatch. While many experts believe that Amazon's product is now stronger than Apple's (especially its activation command) and more competitively priced, it may not take long for Apple to add features and improve its Home Pod. I personally would go for the Amazon Echo Dot.

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