"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes", said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
Apple® today announced HomePod™, a breakthrough wireless speaker for the home that delivers fantastic audio quality and uses spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio. It may also need to foster an app base before it promotes that aspect, since these "skills", as Amazon calls them, are key to consumer acceptance.
Apple hopes to do the same with the release of the HomePod, Apple's second new device introduced under Apple chief executive Tim Cook. Apple says that "only after "Hey Siri" is recognized locally on the device will any information be sent to Apple servers, encrypted and sent using an anonymous Siri identifier".
In addition, Cook said Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, Northern California, now has 16 million registered software developers worldwide for its consumer electronics, including smartphone known as iPhone, and 3 million of them were added past year.
Apple noted the growing popularity of wireless home audio and smart speakers, but made the point that current offerings are lacking. The company hasn't confirmed whether Apple TV will pop back up on its online store given that both have entered a deal, it seems.
HomePod uses the company's A8 chip, which Apple also uses for its mobile devices. Although Siri does support a narrow set of third-party voice actions on iOS devices, it's unclear whether these will be accessible on HomePod. The HomePod, which has been pegged as Apple's answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home, will begin shipping to customers this December.
The speaker features Apple's Siri voice assistant which can play songs for users on requests such as "Hey Siri, play more songs like this?", "Play something new" or even a specific request such as "What was the top song on May 5th 2016?"
"We estimate there is a brewing domestic ecosystem [for smart connected speakers] which could leverage AI developments at Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent", Shah said.
It is created to work with the Apple Music subscription service and can produce rich sound while tapping into the artificial intelligence power of Siri.
Amazon has made incredible progress with building up an ecosystem of third-party Skills, which has helped cement Echo as one of the dominant smart home hubs now available.
On the software front, RBC Capital analyst Amit Daryanani expects the iOS 11 - the next operating system for Apple's iPhones and iPads - to get an overhaul that will accommodate the anticipated removal of the home button from the 10th anniversary model of the iPhone due out later this year. If you're into tablets, Apple has something for you.
New software for the iPad will feature a dock at the bottom of the device, so that users can move in and out of apps more simply.