Apple Joins Smart-Speaker Race With Music-Focused 'HomePod'

What To Expect At Apple’s Big Event Monday	 	 	 			Getty Images

What To Expect At Apple’s Big Event Monday Getty Images

Also worth noting: Apple didn't announce support for any music services beyond its own Apple Music. Of course, the device's Echo-like features will allow users to send text messages, access sports and weather, and close the shades without any music interruptions.

Early observation of the HomePod device led some observers to suggest that the functionality is not particularly impressive. Though, questions still remain surrounding the HomePod's ability to play nicely (or not nicely at all) with music services other than Apple Music, which could make or break the decision for a large chunk of consumers considering the HomePod.

It has six built-in microphones - allowing users to control it from across a room. Although the format is not exclusive to Apple, it's not yet clear how well the photos will work with non-Apple software and devices, which mostly use JPEG. HomePod, Apple Music and Siri deliver the best music experience in the home that streams ad-free directly to HomePod.

Play music from Apple Music, to begin with. It aims to initially beat the competition on audio fidelity. Although Apple has the high hopes of wiping out all other smart speakers, I wanted to find out if Apple's new HomePod is a true Sonos competitor. HomePod might also have some unique appeal to folks who've invested in Apple's burgeoning HomeKit smart home ecosystem. Many of those apps are sold via the App Store, which was revamped, and Apple gets a cut of all those sales.

Apple's HomePod will come in grey, white and black.

What Does All This Mean?

Like those other products it is created to be a digital home assistant, capable of answering questions about maths as well as music-related enquiries - but it comes with some Apple quirks.

In comparison to Amazon's Alexa, users may notice Siri's lack of capabilities as wider features such as being able to make orders using voice control have not yet been added.

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However, unlike Amazon Echo and Google Home, Apple is positioning HomePod more as an alternative to connected music-systems from Sonos and Bose. Porter shoppable app for Apple TV launched a year ago already offers something like that, and Amazon itself is already exploring the notion of special shoppable films to be made with major advertiser partners.

Still, the Apple Watch hasn't been a smash hit, fueling worries that the company's ability to transfix customers had waned after the 2011 death of co-founder Steve Jobs.

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference got underway yesterday evening. However, despite the efforts to reassure people in this area, it seems inevitable that many will be concerned about the potential for the Apple HomePod system to be rather invasive.

The new move will see shows such as Man in the High Castle and The Grand Tour made available on Apple TV devices for the first time. However, tensions between the technology rivals delayed the deal for more than two years, after Amazon stopped selling Apple TVs on its retail site. This device is a smart speaker which is integrated with Apple's trademark artificial intelligence software, Siri.

Google used its recent I/O conference to announce that you can call any number in the United States of America and Canada for free via Google Home.

"They're really focused on privacy", said one person with knowledge of Apple's marketing plans.

Amazon and Google's existing speakers have proved popular with consumers since the Echo launched in the United Kingdom in 2016 and Home earlier this year.