Apple HomePod

Apple’s taking on Amazon and Google in the voice-controlled, home speaker space.

The company said in its more than two-hour-long keynote presentation Monday — the kick-off to its annual Worldwide Developers Conference — it will release later this year a home speaker it’s calling HomePod.

“Music has always been a part of Apple’s DNA,” said Tim Cook told the crowd of developers in attendance. “We first revolutionized the music industry with iTunes. Then we forever changed the way people listened to music on the go with the iPod and when it’s paired with Apple Music….We have such a great, portable music experience but what about our homes? We think we can do a lot to make this experience much better. Just like we did with portable music, we want to reinvent home music.”

HomePod — at just under 7 inches and covered in a 3-D mesh fabric — now offers a rival to the Amazon Echo and Google’s Home.

The speaker, which takes commands beginning with the prompt “Hey Siri,” can pull a user’s music playlist from the cloud or answer questions related to a specific song. Commands can be given from across the room even while loud music is playing and can also play podcasts, provide news updates, weather forecasts, traffic information or set reminders. A person’s home environment can be controlled, allowing for the adjustments of factors such as the temperature or drawing down shades.

HomePod will retail for $349 and start shipping in December to customers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia with further rollout next year to the rest of the world.

The big reveal, which capped, the day’s keynote is the start to Apple’s 28th annual developers conference, being held in San Jose. The weeklong set of workshops and panels is aimed at the developers who create the apps used across the company’s ecosystem of iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TV and Macs.

Other updates revealed at the conference covered the Apple operating systems spectrum.

The company’s TV OS, which has 50 partners, including Hulu and Showtime, will add Amazon Prime Video later this year. The move brings Amazon shows such as “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle” to Apple TV.

Apple Watch came with the announcement of WatchOS 4, which included new watch faces, such as a Siri-powered face that calls up information and apps most relevant to the wearer based on routine as gleaned from machine learning.

The Mac, which Cook called the “heart and soul of Apple,” is set to see the introduction of the Mac OS High Sierra system, which includes autoplay blocking in Safari to stop videos from automatically playing and tracking prevention to keep browsing history personal.

There was also the much-anticipated introduction of iOS 11 for the iPhone, which will be available for public beta later in the month and full rollout in the fall. The new operating system adds the ability for person-to-person payments through Apple Pay using iMessage, an improved Siri voice and enhanced camera features among several other updates. A new augmented reality tool kit for developers is expected to provide greater assistance in developing AR features to apps for activities such as games, design or shopping.

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