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New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

HomePod, shipping in December, also aims to increase subscribers to Apple Music. Siri was originally developed at SRI International as part of a DARPA-funded artificial intelligence project called CALO (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes) and spun out as a startup; Apple purchased it in 2010. Hoping it's not too late to the crowded voice-controlled speaker party, Apple seems to be making a big bet on its own technology and software with the HomePod. This is a new Apple product that was announced today and it is a smartspeaker.

Not surprisingly, Apple plans to get into the virtual assistant game with Amazon and Google.

Apple's Siri agent on the iPhone is available in 21 languages, although the HomePod will initially ship only for English.

Apple appears poised to unveil a voice-activated, internet-connected speaker that would create a new digital pipeline into people's homes. When the HomePod users is not at home, he/she can use the Home app on an iPhone or iPad and access its features remotely. But neither can quite give you the experience promised by the (pricey) combination of a HomePod and Apple Music subscription. "We feel like we reinvented it in the portable player arena, and we feel like we reinvented it in the home arena as well".

Apple's speaker will launch this December in white or gray and will cost $349.




A survey released last month by research firm eMarketer found Echo speakers held 70.6 percent of the U.S. market, compared with 23.8 percent for Google Home.

Apple noted the growing popularity of wireless home audio and smart speakers, but made the point that current offerings are lacking. Spending on smart home related hardware, services and installation fees will reach US$155 billion by 2022, up from nearly US$90 billion this year, with devices accounting for about half of that, the consulting firm also estimates. Although that product came out after other smartwatches hit the market, it quickly outshone competitors, according to industry research firms.

The HomePod is Apple's first new line of products since the Apple Watch in 2015. During Jobs' last decade, Apple introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad — all huge commercial successes that both reshaped daily life and swamped previous digital music players, smartphones and tablets. Apple's entry into the market could change that.

Apple pitched its speaker as primarily a music device, saying it links tightly with the company's Music streaming app, which brings in $10 in revenue per user each month.

Apple had plenty of other announcements. To get its attention, users simply say, "Hey, Siri". Apple said their new ARKit tool will provide advanced augmented reality capabilities on iOS to allow for "fast and stable motion tracking" that makes objects look like they're actually being placed in real space, instead of hovering over it.

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