Published: Fri, June 09, 2017
Industry | By Dora Warner

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The company "can't afford to yield valuable real-estate in the heart of people's homes to Amazon, Google and others", said Geoff Blaber, research analyst at CCS Insight.

Still, it has several similarities with the other home-assistant offerings.

In the USA market, the Amazon Echo now costs around $180 each, while the Google Home retails for $129. Furthermore, a third major player has entered this market, with Apple recently unveiling its "Home Pod," a 7-inch tall speaker for playing music, checking news and controlling other smart devices.

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Apple has announced it is is launching a smart home speaker and electronic assistant called HomePod, created to compete with Amazon's Echo and Google's Home devices.

Geoff Blaber, VP Research Americas, CCS Insight said: "It is little surprise that Apple has made a decision to launch a smart speaker". Although the format is not exclusive to Apple, it's not yet clear how well the photos will work with non-Apple software and devices, which mostly use JPEG.

The news marked Apple's main piece of tvOS-related news at WWDC. At $350 a speaker, HomePod is almost double the price of Amazon Echo, which retails for $180. "That's what they did with the iPad and the iPhone and it's no different here with this speaker, they are about two years late but what they are doing is being really distinct around the music piece of it", he said.

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Interestingly, Apple also announced AirPlay 2 earlier today, which lets you pair multiple speakers and play music in multiple rooms. And there was little talk of Siri, but rather a stronger focus on the HomePod's audio capabilities. Apple says that it upgraded the artificial intelligence capacity of Siri and furnished the HomePod with extra features to enhance the interactive experience.

Changes included making iPads more efficient and being able to send money to friends using Apple's messaging application for mobile devices.

The $349 (roughly Rs. 22,500) HomePod looks to provide an alternative to high-end speakers from competitors such as Bose and Sonos as well as the cheaper home hubs from its fellow tech giants. "Hey Siri", brings the speaker to life and then you can ask it to play music. So it has to prove that it can make a good speaker before calling it the best speaker ever.

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The money can be stored on a virtual card and used with Apple Pay, which Apple expects will be accepted in 50 percent of USA retailers by the end of the year.

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