New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

Amazon Echo, Google Home Devices Raise Privacy Questions

It features a high-definition speaker and runs the Apple Music streaming service, features the company hopes will give it an edge against the Echo and Google's rival Home device.

Apple has announced its first new product since the Apple Watch more than two years ago.

As a home assistant, 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. It has been tested by some Apple employees in their homes for upwards of a year, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) boss Tim Cook has given a glimpse of things to come from the tech giant, showing off new features for devices at its annual developer conference in California.

Amazon's Echo commands 70.6 percent of the USA market and Google Home has 23.8 percent, according to a recent eMarketer report.

Overall control of the HomePod can be maintained from the Home app, and Apple also revealed users will be able to pair their phone with HomePod by holding it next to the speaker.

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Referring to the speakers' mechanical details like its virtual surround sound, Phil Schiller, Apple's marketing chief, said, "You don't have to know what any of that is; just know that it sounds incredible".

And HomePod can do that - some of the time, and only with Apple services. The new Echo Show goes on sale on June 28 for $230. This is the only big announcement by Apple since the launch of its Apple Watch sometime back in September 2014.

With so many low-cost Bluetooth speakers already on the market, I think Apple might have a hard time carving out a niche. Synced directly with Siri and Apple Music, the powerful speaker will play whatever it is told to play. Meant to be Apple's extension into your home, and working with your iPhone and iPad, the device brings Siri's voice-activation features to home automation.

Apple also offered some hints about new capabilities in the next iPhone, including so-called augmented reality, in which digital information is overlaid on real-world images.

Apple also may introduce its next Mac computer, along with the next operating system powering the machine.

It's powered by an A8 processor that Apple says helps it tap into the cloud and provide the best audio experience in your room.

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