The HomePod speaker is the centre of attention at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple is depending on spatial awareness to achieve its goal of reinventing home music, although it's pretty hard to imagine anyone would shell out $349 for a smart speaker. "With over 165 million subscriptions to Apple services and quarterly revenue of $7 billion, this is an important priority for growth".
Apple's Siri agent on the iPhone is available in 21 languages, although the HomePod will initially ship only for English. You may get your hands on this for $349 which roughly translates to Rs 22,500.
To activate the speaker, users can say "Hey Siri" and then ask to play songs from Apple Music.
HomePod's voice control features are delivered using six microphones which also in support of Apple Music users can respond with "Hey Siri, I like this song", and other responses. The top of HomePod is a touch-responsive area where you can play, pause, or adjust the volume.
However, Apple has a well-established reputation for keeping its app ecosystem and platforms under tight control, so developers hoping for more open smart home ecosystems such as Google Home with the Google Assistant and the Amazon Echo Show with Alexa, may be sorely disappointed. The pricing of Apple's device was shared at the conference in comparison to both smart home speakers as well as premium audio speakers. Some of the key features that will appeal to the home user are its ability to throw music recommendations based on Apple's Music service, text messaging, checking the news and sports scores etc.
"Though Apple appears to be playing catch up with Amazon and Google, the primary casualty here may be Sonos". We likely won't know that answer for at least a year. But Apple was careful to frame it as a product focused on music first - potentially differentiating it from the Echo and Home. However, the HomePod promises to bring a sleeker, improved version of the voice-command speaker. And with Apple's HomeKit, Apple's proprietary wireless protocol for controlling third-party smart home gadgets in iOS, HomePod serves as a hub that can control connected lights and thermostats. But the real competition between Apple, Google and Amazon in smart speakers may come down to the quality of their intelligent assistants. It comes in white and space grey, and will retail at $349 (£270).