In Depth

WWDC 2017: Apple unveils HomePod speaker to rival Amazon Echo

Siri-controlled smart system will work with Apple Music subscription and cost double the price of its competitor

Apple has unveiled its new HomePod wireless speaker, which is set to take on Amazon in the home hi-fi market.

Revealed at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the wire-free system can be controlled using Apple's Siri voice assistant and is "designed to work with an Apple Music subscription" - costing £9.99 per month - says the company.

In a similar fashion to the way the Amazon Echo works, users simply say: "Hey Siri" followed by a request such as: "Play The Beatles" to listen to songs in their collection or from the Apple Music streaming service.

It's also expected that owners will be able to stream music directly to the HomePod using Apple's AirPlay 2 wireless connection.

The HomePod is "packed with an Apple-designed upward-facing woofer for deep bass" under its Mac Pro-style outer shell, reports the Financial Times. It will also have seven tweeters and "room-sensing technology that adapts its sound to wherever it might be placed".

Wareable reports buyers can "pair two up for a bigger sonic wallop", although it is not known "how multi-room setups will work".

Industry analyst Ben Wood told the BBC: "It's a logical step for Apple, to ensure that they don't miss the opportunity to get a smart device right in the centre of people's homes.

"There has been a huge amount of hype around Amazon Echo and Google Home, but we are really at the start of this technology."

Apple's HomePod will reach stores in December, reports ArsTechnica, with prices expected to start "somewhere between £330 and £370" - more than double Amazon's £149 Echo and nearly three times the price of Google Home.

Is Apple developing an Amazon Echo rival?

Apple is reportedly ready to unveil a smart speaker to rival the Amazon Echo Show at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in California. 

Analysts told MacRumors there was "a greater than 50 per cent chance" the tech giant will debut a new device controlled by its Siri voice assistant.

Details are scarce, but they say the speaker will include a touchscreen interface which could be used to display movies or TV shows in a similar fashion to Amazon's Echo Show, which was announced last week.

It could also compete with the Echo Show's $229.99 (£178) price tag.

Reports also say next month's conference will also feature a new 10.5ins iPad Pro.

According to 9to5Mac, the tablet "will look similar to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro but feature narrower bezels" and will "pack a larger display into the same approximate chassis size".

It's expected to have a similar look to the upcoming iPhone 8, adds the website, while leaks from an accessory brand suggest a launch date in June.

Apple announced an array of new products and features at last year's WWDC, including MacOS Sierra and iOS 10 operating systems.

However, the show rarely sees the company reveal new hardware, which are usually reserved for conferences towards the end of the year.

WWDC runs from 5 to 9 June.

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