Apple confirms release of HomePod - the 'smartest speaker on offer'

The centerpiece unveiling at Monday's WWDC keynote presentation, the Home Pod is a predictably good looking and well designed device, and Apple CEO Tim Cook says, for one thing, the sound quality for music is going to blow everyone away. For example, the number of security orders from U.S. law enforcement to Apple doubled to about 6,000 during the second half of 2016, compared with the first six months of the year, the company disclosed in late May.

As a home assistant, the HomePod is a great way to send messages, get updates on news, sports and weather, or control smart home devices by simply asking Siri to turn on the lights, close the shades or activate a scene.

The HomePod speaker stands just under 18cm tall and is covered in fabric mesh that will come in white or gray. The HomePod is expected to sell for $349 and be available in December in the USA, U.K., and Australia.

The speaker, while expected by some industry watchers, marked Apple's first new product announcement since the Apple Watch in September 2014. And as The Verge mentions, the Home Pod also has a "Musicologist" feature that "works with Apple Music to stream the music you ask the speaker's built-in Siri to play".

New, smarter Siri: With an upcoming software update for iPhones and iPads, Siri will learn your habits based on what articles you might be reading, for instance. That size offers room for a full-size keyboard, something the 9.7 inch model couldn't. New iMacs and MacBook laptops start shipping Monday. These devices will only keep the most recent messages in local storage.

For photos, Apple is replacing JPEGs with a new format meant to reduce file sizes. Google Maps already does both. Siri will also be able to translate English into Spanish, French, German, Chinese and Italian. Google, meanwhile, previewed new speaker features such as hands-free phone calling during its software conference last month.

Very much a device for consumer use, the HomePod is potentially an interesting prospect for software and online service developers, who are likely to be presented with another smart home device on which they could create apps for or more likely integrate their existing apps with.

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