Apple Unveils Smart Speaker Called HomePod

Apple executive Phil Schiller introduces the HomePod speaker at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

And then there were three.

Apple has finally unveiled its answer to Amazon’s and Google’s smart speakers slash digital assistants — and it’s called HomePod.

This has been one major area in consumer electronics lacking Apple’s footprint. Amazon has heavily dominated the field with its home speaker called Echo, which uses the digital assistant Alexa. Google Home followed in October and Microsoft’s assistant, Cortana, is also finding a home in home speakers.

Both Amazon Echo and Google Home respond to voice commands to play songs, look up stuff online, check the weather, set a reminder or control Internet-connected home appliances.

Siri can do those things, too, but Apple’s pitch for Siri-powered HomePod is instead focused heavily on music — the company appears to bank on consumers paying for smart speakers that deliver high-quality audio sound as a sort of gateway into the world of smart home assistants.

“Just like we did with portable music, we want to reinvent home music,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the Worldwide Developers Conference, where HomePod was unveiled, becoming Apple’s first new device since the release of the Apple Watch in 2015.

The HomePod — due to launch in December — looks like a mesh cylinder. Inside is the same processor that powers the iPhone and an upward-facing 4-inch woofer. Pulling music from the Apple library, the speaker was presented as being able to recognize its placement and direct rich audio sound into the room.

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SOURCE: NPR, Alina Selyukh