WWDC 2017: HomePod is too little, too late and too expensive

Feeling the pressure from Amazon Echo and Google Home, Apple will release its own smart speaker -- but not until the end of the year. And the price tag is very, very Apple.

Feeling the pressure from Amazon Echo and Google Home, Apple will release its own smart speaker -- but not until the end of the year.

And the price tag is very, very Apple.

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Apple took time during its developer conference keynote to offer us a sneak peek at its upcoming smart, spatially aware HomePod speaker.

The HomePod features an array of seven beam-forming tweeters with directional control, a specially designed woofer with automatic bass equalization and dynamic modeling for sound shaping.

Powering the HomePod is an Apple A8 processor, which handles all the heavy lifting demands of the real-time acoustic modeling, audio beam forming, and multi-channel echo cancellation.

And, as you'd expect from a modern Apple product, Siri is baked into the device, turning the HomePod into a hub for information and a control device for IoT and home automation devices. Siri also moonlights on the HomePod as a "musicologist."

OK, so why is HomePod too little, too late and too expensive?

Well, first off, the device doesn't ship until December, giving the existing players six months heads-up, and it will retail for $349, which is eye-watering when compared to Amazon and Google offerings. Apart from some fancy audio tricks -- most of which didn't really translate well into an on-screen demo -- there doesn't seem to be much that the HomePod can do that an Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker can't do.

And, with a six months heads-up, Amazon and Google can fill in any gaps and reinforce their products with new features.

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