Apple unveils HomePod, their Siri-enabled smart speaker at WWDC

Posted June 11, 2017

Even Amazon's new Echo Show, which comes with a touch screen, will only cost $230 when it's released later in June.

This could mean that users could choose whether to use Amazon's Alexa assistant on the device, or other assistants, like Siri. However, the HomePod's $349 price makes it much more expensive than every other smart speaker, and its smart-home functionality is much more limited, too.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the United States market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home. Users will be able to issue voice commands to turn lights on and off, manage thermostat settings and much more.

One reason could be the iPhone itself, one of the most successful consumer products in history.

As for whether Amazon would ever release its own premium speaker, all Limp said, cryptically, is that Amazon always aims to give consumers a lot of choice. "I went to ask Siri, 'Who are Foals?' And it responded with 'Philz Coffee.' And then I said, 'What are Foals?' And it said, 'The Falls'". We'll have to see if HomePod can live up to that promise, but I'm hopeful.

Apple is hoping a new smart home speaker will strike a chord with music lovers - the latest test of the iPhone maker's ability to redefine markets originally staked out by its rivals.

iPad & iPad Pro: Also announced at the Apple WWDC 2017 was the new makeovers of the iPad and iPad Pro. Researchers posed 5,000 questions to the voice control assistants and recorded the answers. Apple has made a smart speaker, not an overall smart home device shaped like one.

It is created to work with the Apple Music subscription service and can produce rich sound while tapping into the artificial intelligence power of Siri. But is Siri ready for "prime time"?

Many non-hardware companies have also announced plans to launch their own exclusive smart speakers targeting both local and worldwide markets this year, alongside smaller startups active in the business segment.

It has six microphones, and is activated with the phrase Hey Siri. The company shrewdly priced the Echo Dot at $50, making it a no-brainer Christmas gift this past holiday season. The Google Home has what it calls a high excursion speaker with a 2-inch driver and two 2-inch passive radiators: we've used one and it sounds good enough to enjoy your music on. Whether singly or in a pair with AirPlay 2 for serious stereo sound, indoors or out, and utilizing only your voice and the data collected and processed by the A8 chip, HomePod instantaneously modifies the sound being projected, and can, through the aid of an algorithm that determines time, space, volume and frequency, upmix direct and ambient sound to affect the most flawless, acoustically defined music you may have ever heard.

With sleek branding, favored integrations with Apple's other products, and the company's retail footprint, HomePod could mature into a true contender if Siri can get smarter.

The HomePod is priced at a whopping $349, which is nearly double of the standard Echo speaker's $180 price tag. Or they might focus primarily on music services, the way Apple TV apps skew strongly toward video.

Alexa's other advantage is in third-party skills, the list of which is continually growing.