Apple's new HomePod, a wireless speaker and digital assistant for the home, could ignite a potentially huge market for smart connected devices on the mainland starting next year.

Apple Inc.is touting this squat 7-inch cylinder as a way to fill a room with sonic bliss. Well, the HomePod is easily the best of the three in terms of overall performance - but you'd expect that given it's also the most expensive.

And if you're a tablet kind of person, besides seemingly being in an exclusive company these days, Apple is trying to hold your attention or wallet with the new iPad Pro.

To accommodate for the included woofer and speaker setup the HomePod comes in slightly bigger package than the competitors too, measuring in at 6.8 inches tall by 5.6 inches wide, and weighing 5.5 pounds. While the device won't be available until later this year, I was able to get an extra glimpse (but not touch) of the new HomePod after Apple's WWDC keynote wrapped up.

The HomePod will work alongside Apple Music, where users can subscribe to over 40 million songs.

The updates in iOS 11 seem to be more about refinement rather than revolution, with most of the new features focusing on UI improvements. Officially called the HomePod, this home music speaker will be selling for $349 initially in United States, United Kingdom and Australia markets.

More news: WWDC 2017: Apple presents iOS 11 with an AR Kit for Developers

"Apple is a company that deeply cares about music and wants to deliver an audio experience in the home", Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg's Emily Chang. Siri also has a new screen in the Apple Watch which presents data and information that may echo earlier behavior at a similar time of day or the week. The upgraded protocol supports multi-room audio, shared playlists and control via Apple TV.

HomePod uses the company's A8 chip, which Apple also uses for its mobile devices.

Some industry insiders, however, note that Apple will be under more pressure to improve the computing smarts of its Siri software in the face of offerings from rivals Google and Amazon. Yes, you can do the same thing with an Amazon Echo or a Google Home, but remember: this is an Apple gadget. "Our team has been hard at work for many years now on a breakthrough home speaker". But consistent with other Apple products, Ask said, the price point positions the HomePad at the high end of the market.

More importantly, High Sierra will see the implementation of Apple File System (APFS). Like the Home and Echo, the HomePod's microphones are always listening for the trigger phrase.

"We estimate there is a brewing domestic ecosystem [for smart connected speakers] which could leverage AI developments at Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent", Shah said. Even then, Apple says it won't know who you are - it'll just get an anonymous ID to help process a response.

The next version of iOS, which powers the iPhone and iPad, as well as desktop software macOS and the Apple Watch's watchOS were also updated at the firm's annual developer conference, WWDC.


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