Apple just unveiled an Amazon Echo competitor that's twice the price

Guillermo Lane
June 6, 2017

Apple is entering the smart speaker space, and it's doing that with a new product launching this December called HomePod. If that doesn't happen before the speaker launches later this year, however, the two colors Apple has picked are at least subtle and non-offending.

Apple made the argument that the HomePod speaker combines the best of the new speaker idea out there.

The moves announced Monday escalate Apple's technological battle of wits with Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook.

The HomePod is Apple's first new gadget in almost three years, following its announcement of the Apple Watch in September 2014. The internet giant has quietly added support for linking Alexa to your iCloud calendar, letting you add events or check appointments that should promptly show up on your iOS devices and Macs, Engadget said.Do I need to have an Amazon Echo speaker to use Alexa? Although Apple Watch has emerged as the leader among smartwatches, it hasn't become a smash hit like the iPhone.

Samsung doubled the number of wearable devices shipped compared with the previous year, but it's still at fourth overall, at less than 5 percent, just ahead of Garmin. The idea is to get outside software programmers geared up to write apps for Apple products.

The updates played a central role at the start of Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, a gathering of 5,300 developers who create the apps central to the iPhone and other devices.

■ Some of the most popular apps, such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, don't cost anything.

Apple's voice-controlled Siri assistant will be integrated into the US$349 speaker, and will make music recommendations that pair with the company's Apple Music service, send text messages, check news and sports scores and control home gadgets like lightbulbs and thermostats.

Apple also introduced a new version of its business-oriented iPad Pro at an intermediate size with more storage, a better display and an improved camera.

Of course, being armed with Siri means it also functions as an assistant. While the Echo and Home aren't known for great sound quality, Apple engineers-presumably with some help from Beats engineers-built the HomePod for high-fidelity audio quality. This makes it not only a competitor to the Echo and Home, but also to home audio systems like those offered by Sonos and Bose.

It's game-time! Apple just announced its long-awaited take on a smart speaker, completing the smart speaker triumvirate along with Google and Amazon.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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