Apple launches HomePod – its very own smart speaker

Featuring realtime acoustic modelling, the HomePod will ship this December.

On Monday, with the launch of the HomePod, Apple has taken aim at Amazon.com’s Echo devices featuring Alexa.

The development underscores Apple’s move to launch a device into a completely new market segment after a gap of more than two years.

With this launch, the world’s most valuable technology company is aiming to recover from a dip in iPhone sales and is looking for new ways to get consumers to spend on its products and services.

As expected, Siri, Apple’s assistant is integrated into the $349 speaker. With the HomePod, Siri can make new music recommendations, pair with its Music service, check sports scores and news, send text messages and control compatible home gadgets, including thermostats and lightbulbs.

Although the Siri is not as versatile as Alexa, which can order pizzas from restaurants such as Domino’s as well as from Amazon.com’s marketplace, Apple is expected to announce which will make Siri more versatile and compatible with a large variety of apps.

The HomePod just under 18 cm (7”) tall, is covered with a fabric mesh and comes in two colors – white or grey. A processor tunes sound to the room and will beam specific parts of the music, such as the voice track, towards the listener.

Apple will sell the speaker in Britain, Australia and the United States starting from this December.

As a music playing device, the HomePod will not only challenge Amazon’s Echo but also Sonos’ wifi-controlled speakers which are used by the smartphone generation to listen to home entertainment.

The HomePod’s assistant, Siri, which competes with Google’s assistant as well as Amazon’s Alexa, will work across devices.

With the launch, Apple’s shares closed just below its all-time high set last month.

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