Apple on Monday unveiled its “HomePod” speaker as it moved to challenge Amazon Alexa and Google Home as a smart home and music hub.
HomePod, powered Apple’s Siri digital assistant, will be priced at $349 when it begins shipping in December in the United States, Australia and Britain, the tech giant announced at its annual developers conference.
“It’s so cool, we really believe it is going to take your home music experience to the next level,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said of the new device.
HomePod will taking Amazon Echo and Google Home, which have been building momentum in the market for voice-controlled speakers capable of controlling smart appliances, fetching content from the internet and more.
HomePod is designed to work with the Apple Music subscription service and can produce rich sound while tapping into the artificial intelligence power of Siri.
Apple vice president Phil Schiller said the Siri team at Apple had tuned the assistant into a “musicologist” that learns the tastes of listeners and gets songs from the internet cloud.
The speaker has the “power to rock the house,” according to Schiller, who said the team worked to make HomePod an potent assistant for news, messages, weather, traffic, home controls and more.
HomePod capped a keynote presentation at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference that included updates to its iPad and Mac laptop lines, and upgraded operating software enabling augmented reality for iPhones and iPads.