Apple unveils an Amazon Echo competitor

It is said so as the Apple HomePod, which is a 7-inch smart speaker has abilities to play music, check the news and control the other connected devices. Amazon introduced the Echo way back in 2014, and Google started shipping its competitor, Google Home, last year. The assistant speaker or rather "musicologist" as Apple likes to call it will not be available for sale until December, and it is unclear if the device will ever debut in India. Apple referred to the "ambient" parts like background piano music as distinct from the more central parts like the vocals. With Siri most widely used on iPhone, Apple risked missing out on the daily, at-home tasks consumers increasingly use Echo or Home for - reminders, calendars, music.

Sitting around 18 centimetres tall, the HomePod integrates one of Apple's A8 chips with an eight-speaker array - one upward-firing woofer and seven tweeters, alongside six directional microphones to pick up your voice anywhere around a room and send it off to Siri.

During its developers conference, Apple highlighted the difference between the HomePod and the Echo, saying that while the Echo was "smart" compared to wireless speakers such Sonos' offerings, its sound quality left much to be desired.

"It's a logical step for Apple, to ensure that they don't miss the opportunity to get a smart device right in the centre of people's homes", said Ben Wood, an industry analyst at CCS Insight.

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The moves announced Monday escalate Apple's technological battle of wits with Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook.

Amazon declined to comment on whether it will again sell Apple TVs. Even then, Apple says it won't know who you are - it'll just get an anonymous ID to help process a response.

Desktop: Apple also announced a new iMac Pro, which will cost $4,999 and will be available in December. The uncertainties lie in how many Google developers and customers will defect. But Apple occasionally also uses the event to introduce new devices and services and upgrades to existing products. Apple is clearly trying to position its desktop and laptop computers to appeal more to creative professionals, including game developers.

Apple replaced record collections with the iPod and earned front pocket real estate with the iPhone.

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In comparison to Amazon's Alexa, users may notice Siri's lack of capabilities as wider features such as being able to make orders using voice control have not yet been added. If you're an Apple Music member, the HomePod can access Apple Music's full catalog, as well as tap into machine learning to learn about your music preferences and suggest songs and artists you might like.

Apple had plenty of other announcements. Developers will keep an eye out for hints about new capabilities in the next iPhone, such as so-called augmented reality, in which digital information is overlaid on real-world images. A representative from Wingnut AR, a studio owned by "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson, demoed a more elaborate AR battle onstage. Given the hundreds of millions of Apple mobile devices in use, that will create the largest augmented reality platform in the world "overnight", executives said.

There's no firm date on when AppleTV users can stream The Man In The High Castle to their dystopic hearts' content; Apple CEO Tim Cook said only that it will happen "later this year".

A new Watch OS was also previewed, with new features and advancements mostly in the Watch, Fitness and Activity areas. The company also says that it will be more sensitive to the context of a user's question or information.

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