Apple just unveiled HomePod, a $349 competitor to Amazon's Echo

Posted June 23, 2017

Apple has announced HomePod, a new Apple-designed home music speaker.

"Apple justified the price by positioning HomePod as a high-end speaker rather than a virtual assistant, which is smart", she said.

Unvieled at this week's WWDC17 conference, the new device uses personal digital-assistant Siri and core Apple services like Apple Music.

But it is on sound quality that Apple hopes to distinguish HomePod from the dominant smart speakers on the market.

It less than 7-inch tall and comes in white and black hues.

HomePod will be available for $349 (US) in white and space grey starting in December initially in Australia, the United Kingdom and the US. You may get your hands on this for $349 which roughly translates to Rs 22,500.

Admittedly a cross between Amazon's Alexa smart and the Sonos wireless speaker, the HomePod "aims to reinvent music in homes, just as the iPod did in our pockets". You can also tell Siri you like a certain song, and it'll remember your tastes. Adding a smart speaker into people's homes creates a further touch point for consumers and a valuable gateway to Apple services.

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".

In terms of design, the HomePod looks nothing like Google Home or Amazon Echo, although it does resemble a stump covered with a mesh fabric for the speakers, akin to the base of Google Home or the exterior of Amazon Tap.

HomePod was Apple's announcement during the WWDC keynote address on Monday, June 5. That sure seems to be what we're getting with the highly-priced HomePod. By the same token, you can drive beefier speakers with a $50 Echo Dot, but Apple's solution is less cluttered and it offers whole-home audio support.

With that in mind, we've put together a quick overview of how the major smart speakers now compare. Six microphones mean Siri can understand speech from a variety of distances.

You also can ask other Siri queries, such as news headlines, the weather, sports scores and more.

Amazon's Echo smart speaker was the tech success story of 2016.

HomePod can be paired up with your iPhone 5s or later running the new iOS 11 and the connectivity works just like the AirPods, all you have to do is bring your iPhone in the range and your iPhone will be connected with your HomePod.