The long anticipated Apple rival to the Amazon Echo and Google Home, dubbed HomePod, has arrived. The centerpiece unveiling at Monday's WWDC keynote presentation, the HomePod is a predictably good looking and well designed device, and Apple CEO Tim Cook says, for one thing, the sound quality for music is going to blow everyone away.
The New York Times notes that the biggest casualty of Apple entering the voice-enabled home speaker realm may end up being Sonos, whose app-controlled, internet-enabled stereo devices remain popular in-home speaker options. But with a Siri-controlled Apple device that also can send text, provide traffic and weather info, control home lighting, and play Apple Music, Sonos better watch out, not to mention Amazon, among whose Echo owners are likely a lot of iPhone owners and Apple fans. And as The Verge mentions, the HomePod also has a “Musicologist” feature that "works with Apple Music to stream the music you ask the speaker’s built-in Siri to play. [And] You can even ask more complex, music-related questions like 'Who’s the drummer in this song?' or 'What album came out on this day 20 years ago?'"
As CNet points out, this also means that Apple's HomeKit software now has its own standalone device, meaning that it could attract Android users and others who previously did not want to use Siri through an iPhone or iPad.
The HomePod will hit shelves in December, and is priced at $349, and apparently comes with companion speakers for creating surround-sound.
The Verge runs down all the other big announcements from today's keynote, and those include a new iPad Pro model with a 10.5-inch screen, the new iOS 11 with improved camera and Apple Maps software, upgrades to Siri, and a powerful new iMac Pro on steroids that can support up to 18 core processors and is priced at $5,000.
Also, in important news for the upcoming macOS release, High Sierra, there will be an update to Safari that helps block site trackers and autoplaying videos something that seems to be an epidemic on media sites right now and it drives me, personally, insane.
Below is The Verge's 19-minute edit of the full keynote.
There's also an update to WatchOS with a new Siri interface and a new Music app for the Apple Watch, and laptops are getting updates, with a new faster 21.5-inch MacBook Air with 4K high resolution that will start at around $1,300, and a new 13-inch MacBook Pro that starts at $1,300.