Apple unveils home music speaker featuring Siri support

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Apple is entering the voice controlled smart speaker market with HomePod, based upon its Siri assistant platform.

"Apple is smart to frame the HomePod as a music-centric and audio-centric device rather than just another smart speaker or another home for Siri", said Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson. In this event, the company has officially announced a new smart speaker, Apple HomePod, at the end of the yesterday's schedule.

Or perhaps the Queen's Guard?

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More than 35 million people in the US are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year, according the research firm eMarketer. The HomePod supports a list of features, including unit conversion, messages, news, podcast playback, reminders, translation, general knowledge, weather, traffic info, sports scores, setting alarms, timers, and will also work as a HomeKit bridge.

A new Siri interface on the Apple Watch will also blend users' calendar information with other useful details, like airline tickets they may have booked, the company said. In a nod to consumers, Apple said the latest version of its Safari Web browser won't show auto-playing videos on Web sites, and it won't allow sites to track users across the Web. But Siri is also a know-it-all when it comes to music. The executive responded by saying HomePod is "a little different philosophically" than Amazon's products due to its "premium price". Throughout the presentation, he boasted about the new gadget's sensors, its connection to Apple Music, and the speaker's superior quality. For instance, Apple initially resisted enlarging the size of iPhone's screen despite strong sales for larger-display phones made by Samsung and other rivals. Amazon's senior VP of devices David Limp explained that he believes Alexa and Siri should be able to communicate with one another, while also pointing to the HomePod's price as an advantage for Amazon... The role of digital assistants in devices is likely to become increasingly important within driverless cars and as homes become more connected.

All in all, it was a big day for Apple, with more big news expected tomorrow, on Day 2 of the worldwide developers conference. During Jobs' last decade, Apple introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad - all huge commercial successes that both reshaped daily life and swamped previous digital music players, smartphones and tablets. Apple expects to launch the HomePod in December.

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