Apple 'HomePod' speaker to take on Amazon, Google

The speakers have powered by Apple's Siri Digital Assistant.

Chief executive Tim Cook, referencing the company's iTunes service and iPod, said: "Just like portable music, we would like to reinvent home music".

That's why many analysts believe that Apple is working on its own version of a speaker that could be revealed Monday at its annual developers conference in San Jose. But with a Siri-controlled Apple device that also can send text, provide traffic and weather info, control home lighting, and play Apple Music, Sonos better watch out, not to mention Amazon, among whose Echo owners are likely a lot of iPhone owners and Apple fans.

"It's the biggest brains ever in a speaker", said Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller.

Amazon introduced the Echo speaker, featuring its Alexa assistant, in 2015.

This week's event, known as the Worldwide Developers Conference, convenes thousands of developers who create apps for Apple's operating system.

Analysts said Apple is playing to its strength in the music industry by focusing on sound quality and its catalog of songs available on HomePod. Not coincidentally, Apple also announced AirPlay 2, which you'll be able to use to pair up speakers and play music in different rooms of your house.

Technically, yes. Although HomePod is optimised for Apple Music use, it can support Spotify and other music platforms due to its Airplay functionality. And is Apple seriously expecting us to drop $700 on two HomePods just so we can use the stereo functionality?

In addition, Cook said Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, Northern California, now has 16 million registered software developers worldwide for its consumer electronics, including smartphone known as iPhone, and 3 million of them were added past year. The $349 price tag is a bit more expensive than comparably-sized internet-connected speakers, almost double the price of the Amazon Echo, and more than double the Google Home. This has resulted in Echo and Google Home dominating the space.

The free software, iOS 11, is expected in September, when Apple typically releases new iPhones. The new features earning the most applause from the audience, however were the ability to block videos from automatically playing in Safari and intelligent tracking prevention, essentially stopping those pesky targeted ads from following you around the internet.

The new MacOS High Sierra will also be rolled out later this year, offering a smart photos feature to make it easier to find what you're looking for. Daryanani said Apple may also announce an iPad Pro with a faster processor in an attempt to revive its long-slumping tablet sales. Unlike Amazon's new Echo Show, Apple's device does not have a screen.

Apple told the developers they were overhauling the App Store, giving it a fresh look, and beginning to add the floor plans of shops and airports to its mapping program.

With the next version of the iOS system for mobile devices, messages will sync in the cloud.

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