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New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

08 June 2017

The smartness around music could give the HomePod a significant advantage over the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers.

The company is expected to unveil a voice-activated, internet-connected speaker that would create a new digital pipeline into people's homes.

The smart assistant speaker has immediately been compared to others in the market like Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Google Home.

But while Amazon and Google have stressed the daily practicalities of the artificial intelligence assistants that run Echo and Home, Apple framed HomePod more as a music-listening platform, with practicalities like reminders and calendar nearly an after thought. However, HomePod, which will starts shipping in December, can tell you the weather, read news and sports scores, and perform many other tasks, all beginning with the command, "Hey Siri".

Forget the HomePod speaker: For Apple TV owners, the big WWDC news is that the Apple TV will soon gain an Amazon Prime Video app.

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HomePod comes three years after Amazon launched the Echo and six months after Google launched its Home. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the USA are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than double its estimate from last year. You can instruct Siri to play your favorite song, ask questions, etc.

The HomePod will be available from December in the United States and United Kingdom, priced at $349 (£215) - although the conversion might differ. This processor helps power the device as well as ensures it can easily navigate through the cloud and fetch the music in the smoothest possible way. The new speaker establishes a bulwark inside the home to lock customers more tightly into these services. Siri was originally developed at SRI International as part of a DARPA-funded artificial intelligence project called CALO (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes) and spun out as a startup; Apple purchased it in 2010.

For instance, if a contact sends you a request for money, Siri will immediately surface the new Apple Pay feature in your messages which allows you to make person-to-person payments, a challenge to PayPal Holdings Inc.'s similar Venmo system.

WWDC is Apple's annual pitch to software engineers to continue building programs for the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch.

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.