Apple unveils 'HomePod' speaker, iOS 11

In fact, we couldn't even touch the pristine white table it sat on, and trying to activate it with "Hey, Siri" didn't work either.

"Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes", says Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. The news was the first of six main announcements made by Apple at today's WWDC keynote.

That is a seriously big ask for a mono speaker with unproven smart skills.

When the speaker wakes up, multi-color LEDs light up and dance on the top of the device (much the same as the colorful graphic that pops up when you hail Siri on your phone). The HomePod is planned to launch in December for United States dollars 349 in the US, UK and Australia.

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HomePod will be available for $349 (US) in white and space gray starting in December initially in Australia, the United Kingdom and the US.* HomePod is compatible with iPhone 5s and later, running iOS 11.

We were able to extend our index finger and thumb and nearly span the entire speaker, which, according to the HomePod specs, is just under seven inches tall. For comparison, a Sonos Play:1 and Amazon Echo Dot (which will work together this later year) now cost a combined US$300. It's getting more features in iOS 11 and it's getting its very own speaker - the HomePod. Pulling music from the Apple library, the speaker was presented as being able to recognize its placement and direct rich audio sound into the room.

This means you cannot only ask Siri to play music, but also ask her questions about it like "who's the drummer in this?", "when was this recorded?" and "what was the top song in 1983?" However, Siri has been slow to improve its voice-recognition technology and set of responses, especially compared with the more capable Alexa and Google Assistant.

The HomePod will be powerful on the inside, too, with a custom A8 chip, just like on an iPhone. Acoustic modelling optimises the sound depending on where the speaker is placed.

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The watch can communicate with some gym equipment to share data between the two - like your heart rate or the treadmill's incline.

The speaker, which will cost US$349 and be available in December, is the third new product category Apple has entered since Chief Executive Tim Cook assumed leadership of thefirm in 2011, the Journal noted. Apple says that will mean 4K video files up to 40 percent smaller than with H.264. It's the first time in 15 years that Apple has held its conference in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley.

There's still a lot left to explore about the Apple HomePod smart speaker. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180; Google's Home speaker goes for $130.

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