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Apple unveils 'HomePod' speaker, first new product in years

06 June, 2017, 05:29 | Author: Abraham Jackson

As Schiller introduced the device, he acknowledged that there are several other smart home speakers available on the market.

The next chapter in the battle for dominance of the smart speaker market starts here. Apple will let people play audio in multiple rooms while Google works on introducing that to its Cast media streaming app.

The $349 device - shipping in December for the US, United Kingdom and Australia - stands at seven inches tall, is wrapped in mesh fabric and comes packed with the same dual-core A8 chip used in the iPhone 6, giving it the "biggest brain ever in a speaker", according to Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller. Inside, it has seven tweeters, each with its own individual driver, along with a four-inch, upward-facing woofer.

We were able to extend our index finger and thumb and nearly span the entire speaker, which, according to the HomePod specs, is just under seven inches tall.

While Apple may hope that people buy into the idea of HomePod serving a different, more musical objective than its Amazon and Google rivals, people really like using their speakers for services beyond listening to music.

"HomePod packs powerful speaker technology, Siri intelligence and wireless access to the entire Apple Music library into a handsome speaker that is less than 7 inches tall, can rock most any room with distortion free music and be a helpful assistant around your home", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior VP of worldwide marketing.

Amazon's Echo commands 70.6 percent of the USA market and Google Home has 23.8 percent, according to a recent eMarketer report.

Apple is expected to announce plans for a speaker on Monday.

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Not even the speaker's internal hardware was spared.

The HomePod will be powerful on the inside, too, with a custom A8 chip, just like on an iPhone.

Apple boss Tim Cook said the event was "the best and biggest WWDC ever".

The HomePod features six microphones for users to interact with across the room.

It'll also have bass management through real-time software modeling that ensures the speaker delivers the deepest and cleanest bass possible, with low distortion, according to Apple. This speaker is "wrapped in a seamless mesh fabric" that's made to look good and perform well with speakers blasting through it.

The research firm IDC says Apple and Xiaomi each has a worldwide market share of almost 15 percent in the first quarter.

The HomePod's looks seem to emphasize its functionality as a speaker first, and an intelligent assistant second.

In its current incarnation, Apple's HomeKit system is software only. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180; Google's Home speaker goes for $130. But with the company feeling pressure from rivals in the home computer and laptop spaces - and with many of its Mac lines having languished without significant updates for quite a while - many analysts were tipping an uncharacteristically hardware-heavy show, and that's exactly what we got.

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