Apple unveils $349 HomePod to compete with Amazon Echo, Google Home

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. At $109, the full speaker costs less than Amazon's standard Echo, which is priced at $179.

The five-day conference to be attended by more than 5,000 developers - who each paid $1,599 after winning a lottery - is moving from San Francisco to San Jose, where it will be held for the first time since 2002.

Apple has a short product video for its new product, available for viewing below. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is seeking new revenue streams after becoming heavily reliant on the success of the iPhone.

That's it! It's very similar to Google's speaker/assistant combo, Home, in this respect. Both speakers can respond to voice requests for the news, weather and tasks such as turning on the lights.

People interact with the digital assistants on those speakers more frequently than on their phones, according to Technalysis Research of Foster City.

Apple is big on privacy, so whenever Siri is active, the top of the speaker displays a "Siri" animation, and AAPL employs end-to-end encryption and anonymous IDs for any queries. Amazon's new Echo Show, with a screen, is $229. The conference for software developers runs through Friday. This device rolls with a "wide range of deep, rich bass" as well as "smooth, distortion-free sound" - so says Apple. It contains Apple's A8 chip, launched in 2014.

As for Apple's demonstration of the "augmented reality" capability coming to the updated iOS II, this fall, Munster was impressed. Specifically, Apple's offering is said to utilize Beats audio technology with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo offering up the following prediction last month.

The enormous success of the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers had fuelled rumours Apple would enter the market.

Bloomberg reported last week that the company had begun to manufacture the device.

With consumers less interested in buying new tablets, Apple has increased its focus on designing tablets for professionals to do much of the same work that they usually perform on a laptop computer. Beyond a visual overhaul, Apple could include updates to Apple Music and some core apps like Maps. The new iOS also features a new keyboard that gives access to punctuation features by flicking down on keys, allowing for faster typing.

Apple also may introduce its next Mac computer, along with the next operating system powering the machine. Amazon sells various Fire TV products that bring internet video to TV sets just the way that Apple TV boxes do.

The younger siblings of the Apple hardware world, the Apple TV and Apple Watch are also due for some software updates.

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