WWDC 2017: Apple introduces smart compact music speaker

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These giants are battling over still-emerging fields that are expected to turn into technological gold mines, much the way personal computers and smartphones became moneymaking machines in previous decades.

Rumors of an Apple smart speaker have been floating around for at least a year, so the fact that the company unveiled one at its 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference wasn't a shock.

Apple will take on Amazon and Google with a £270 HomePod that puts its Siri smart assistant into a tabletop speaker. But Apple was careful to frame it as a product focused on music first - potentially differentiating it from the Echo and Home.

HomePod's integration with Apple Music will be an advantage, particularly if the customer is already entrenched in Apple's ecosystem, subscribes to Apple Music, and places high priority on music streaming when buying a smart speaker.

Apple vice president Phil Schiller said the Siri team at Apple had tuned the assistant into a "musicologist" that learns the tastes of listeners and gets songs from the internet cloud.

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We heard rumors that Apple would be launching a new Siri Speaker, the device is now official and it is called the HomePod.

Apple has finally revealed its long awaited Siri-connected speaker at this year's WWDC, a direct rival to the likes of the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the United States market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home and 5.6 percent for others including Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon and Mattel.

After all, the market for such devices is growing fast, and projected to keep expanding: in a report this month, research firm eMarketer predicted almost 36 million Americans will use a speaker-based voice-assistant each month this year, more than twice as many as a year ago.

For starters, consumers will have to consider the HomePod's premium price tag of $349. "[And] You can even ask more complex, music-related questions like 'Who's the drummer in this song?' or 'What album came out on this day 20 years ago?'"

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"This will be a platform for developing Apple's services", says Gene Munster, a co-founder of Loup Ventures and former Apple analyst. We are guessing that Apple has tuned into the expertise it gained from its acquisition of Beats back in May 2014, which was meant to raise its competitive outlook in the music streaming business. It's not coincidental that Apple published its first AI research paper last December. This is Apple's way of not only getting partners to shore up royalty fees, but ensuring that any home automation products can't be tampered with from the neighbor's smart hub device a few blocks down the street. That's especially important because people are starting to access information, entertainment and search in a more "pervasive" way that's less dependent on smartphones, he said. The Sonos Play 3, however, could be considered a serious competitor.

Apple had plenty of other announcements. The new model will begin shipping on Monday.

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. Another Safari feature will stop video from automatically playing on websites. It's part of Apple's effort to entice professionals with tablets that can handle many tasks previously reserved for laptops. Still, the promo shot on the Apple Store website shows a bird's eye view of the speaker which features the colourful Siri waveform in the centre.

Apple has introduced something called an ARKit to enable developers build augmented reality apps for the iPhone. So far, the service has limited payments to purchases of products and services from companies and other organizations.

"Every time they are announcing new stuff lots of new features on the iPad, new messaging, drag and drop stuff".

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