Apple's making an Amazon Echo competitor called 'HomePod'

Apple is making a competitor to Amazon’s Echo speaker, and it features a familiar voice: Siri. Apple’s new device is called HomePod, and it marries Apple’s Siri digital assistant to a home speaker.

Here it is:

The device was announced on stage during Apple’s annual WWDC developer event in San Jose, California, and it arrives “later this year” according to Apple. HomePod is seven inches tall, and is intended as a “breakthrough” speaker in addition to being a personal assistant.

The HomePod is covered in cloth, which hides an array of speakers within — it plays music in all directions, but it’s aware of whatever space it’s in and directs sounds accordingly. It’s powered by Apple Music, Apple’s subscription music service, and connects directly.

A set of six microphones are also hidden within HomePod, enabling it to work with Siri by voice commands.

“You can be across the room and speak to the HomePod even while loud music is playing,” Apple’s Phil Schiller said during the introduction presentation. He referred to Siri as the HomePod’s built-in “musicologist.”

Beyond just controlling music, you can control any “HomeKit” devices through HomePod — that means stuff like Phillips Hue lighting, Nest thermostats, and other smart devices. Like Amazon’s Echo, you’ll speak to Siri by saying, “Hey Siri.”

Let’s say you want to turn on your Phillips Hue lights, for instance. Let’s play that out:

“Hey Siri, turn on the kitchen lights.”

That’s it! It’s very similar to Google’s speaker/assistant combo, Home, in this respect.

HomePod costs $US349 to start, it launches this December, and it’s only available in the US, UK, and Australia at launch.

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