Apple's HomePod Is a Pricey Amazon Echo Competitor

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The HomePod, Apple's smart speaker will not only be able to stream music, but will have Siri built in and be able to control smart home devices through HomeKit. "If Apple does not launch a "skills store", that would be a mistake".

The announcements follow complaints that Apple has let its Mac computers languish in favor of its better-selling products, namely the iPhone. If the speculation pans out, the speaker would be Apple's first new product since its smartwatch in 2015.

Reuters reports that Apple is likely going to stick to its tested method of focusing on a limited amount of features and perfecting them instead of trying to offer as many features as possible. Outside companies' digital music services - presumably including Spotify and Pandora - don't appear to be accessible directly through the Apple speaker. However, Amazon's Echo speakers remain our favourites right now. Although Apple Watch has emerged as the leader in its technological niche, it hasn't become a smash hit like the iPhone or the iPad — at least until tablet sales started declining. "It's the biggest brains ever in a speaker", said Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller. A preview of a new high-powered iMac Pro desktop, due to be released later this year, was also teased.

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■ As far as hardware is concerned, rumours are centered on the introduction of a new "Siri speaker" that would bring Apple's digital assistant on a level playing field with devices such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Taking direct aim at services like those provided by PayPal Holdings Inc, Apple also debuted peer-to-peer payments for Apple Pay in which users will be able to send money through the Messages app on iPhones.

The HomePod speaker unveiled at a conference for software programmers Monday is similar to devices that rivals Amazon and Google have already been selling, though Apple says it's giving more emphasis to sound quality, not just smarts.

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Apple's annual conference for app developers begins Monday in San Jose, California. You can activate it with a wake word-"Hey Siri"-and ask an artificially intelligent assistant, Siri, to play music".

02/05/2017: Apple may be gearing up to release a Siri-enabled speaker to take on the Amazon Echo and Google Home, according to reports.

Imagine what Apple could do if it didn't mind losing money on one product like a home speaker or from potential future products like an Apple auto or glasses that mix the virtual world with reality like the Pokemon Go game.

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