Apple HomePod sets sights on Amazon Echo, Google Home

Look out Alexa and Echo, here comes the HomePod. Apple is stuffing its beloved Siri into an Internet-connected speaker in what is the digital giant’s first new product in more than two years. The HomePod speaker was unveiled at a conference for software programmers on Monday, and will go head-to-head-to-head with Amazon and Google’s popular digital home assistants. But of course Apple says its siri-based system tops them all because it’s giving more emphasis to sound quality, not just smarts. Not surprisingly, there’s integration with the Apple Music online subscription. Besides playing music, HomePod will help people to manage their lives and homes. Siri will be the voice assistant responding to requests for information and other help around the house. It’s Apple’s first new device since the company released the Apple Watch in April 2015. But it all comes for a fairly hefty price. The speaker will sell for about $350 in December in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180 and Google sells its Home speaker for $130. So that speaker better sound pretty nice. The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released last year, have helped plant the seeds for a promising market. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the U.S. are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year.

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